TORONTO — The All-Star break next week is arriving at just the right time for Luke Hochevar.
The Kansas City right-hander won for the third time in four starts after leaving the game with a sprained ankle, Eric Hosmer had three RBIs and the Royals beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-6 on Thursday night.
Hochevar (6-8) gave up two runs and four hits in five innings before leaving with his injury. He sprained his right ankle while covering first base on Colby Rasmus’ infield single in the fifth.
“I hit the bag on the inside and just rolled it in,” Hochevar said. “It wouldn’t have been bad if it wasn’t on the inside. When I was pushing off the rubber it extended it and it was biting me pretty good. It’s a good thing we have the All-Star break coming up and I’ve got eight days (of rest).”
Hochevar stayed in the game and struck out Jose Bautista to finish the inning, but was replaced by Tim Collins in the sixth.
“He was fine but I didn’t like the look on his face,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “When he came in (to the dugout) he lobbied to go back out for the sixth but I wasn’t going to.”
Hochevar, who improved to 4-1 in seven career starts against Toronto, said his ankle isn’t so sore that he couldn’t pitch again before the break if he was scheduled for another start.
“It’s stiff and it’s tender and it bother me to push off the rubber but I think it would be fine,” he said.
All-Star Billy Butler snapped a season-long 0-for-24 hitless streak against Toronto pitching and Yuniesky Betancourt homered as the Royals won for the second time in six games. Salvador Perez tied a career-high with four hits, all singles, and extended his hitting streak to a career-best 11 games. Kansas City finished with a season-high 16 hits.
“(Perez) has been a big boost to our club, both defensively and offensively,” Yost said.
Collins worked 1 1-3 innings and Greg Holland got the last two outs of the seventh. Aaron Crow got two outs in the eighth but gave up Yunel Escobar’s RBI single before Jose Mijares came on and surrendered a two-run triple to pinch-hitter Ben Francisco before Kelvin Herrera got J.P. Arencibia to ground out to end the threat.
Jonathan Broxton finished in the ninth for his 21st save.
“Each guy we put out there got into a little bit of trouble but we found a way to make it work,” Broxton said.
Arencibia hit two home runs for the Blue Jays and Henderson Alvarez (5-7) gave up five runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings. Toronto lost for just the ninth time in 14 meetings against Kansas City dating to last season.
Kansas City opened the scoring with in a five-run, 10-batter third against Alvarez, an inning that started and ended with Jeff Francoeur grounding out to third base.
In between, Alcides Escobar, Hosmer and Billy Butler hit RBI singles. A fourth run scored on Brett Lawrie’s throwing error and Mike Moustakas capped the rally with a sacrifice fly.
“We put that big inning together and that was huge for us,” Hosmer said. “We capitalized on the mistakes and that’s key for us.”
Butler’s infield single to third base was his first hit against the Blue Jays this season. Lawrie tried to throw Butler out from foul territory behind third base, but sent his throw into right field, allowing Escobar to score.
“I thought it was going to be a double down the line and clear the bases and (Lawrie) snared it,” Butler said. “I could have easily had 10 hits this year against them but I got one.”
Arencibia cut it to 5-2 in the third when he followed Kelly Johnson’s leadoff double with a two-run drive into the second deck in left, his first career homer off his former University of Tennessee batterymate.
“Arencibia’s been a thorn in my side the last couple of times I’ve faced him,” Hochevar said. “I’ve got to figure out a way to get him out.”
Toronto’s catcher went deep again in the seventh with a one-out solo drive, his 13th homer of the season, off Collins. It was his third multihomer game of the season and sixth of his career.
Kansas City made it 8-3 with a three-run eighth against reliever Francisco Cordero. Alex Gordon had an RBI single and two runs scored on Hosmer’s base hit to shallow right, with Jarrod Dyson racing around to score from second when the throw went to first base.
Toronto cut it to 8-6 in the bottom half on Escobar’s RBI single and Francisco’s triple, but Betancourt led off the ninth with a solo homer off Drew Carpenter, his sixth.
“Tack on runs in the eighth and ninth inning were huge for us, obviously,” Yost said.
NOTES: The Blue Jays purchased the contract of RHP Sam Dyson from Double-A New Hampshire. Dyson replaces RHP Scott Richmond, who was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas on Wednesday. Dyson made his major league debut in the seventh, pitching to two batters. … Blue Jays RHP Brandon Morrow (strained left oblique) has reached 150 feet while throwing on flat ground. Morrow has been out since June 12, and there is no timetable for his return. … The Royals released C Humberto Quintero, who was designated for assignment June 27. … Earlier Thursday, Broxton lost out to Texas RHP Yu Darvish in fan voting for the final All-Star Game roster spot. … Toronto released veteran LHP Jamie Moyer after the 49-year-old went 1-1 in two starts at Triple-A.
– Associated Press –