KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Luke Hochevar remains an enigma for the Kansas City Royals.
Hochevar retired 14 of the first 15 Arizona Diamondbacks he faced and required just 25 pitches in the first three innings. Then Hochevar gave up a long home run to Wily Mo Pena with two out in the fifth and five runs in three innings in the Royals' 7-2 loss Tuesday night.
``I wouldn't use the word disturbing. I'd use maybe puzzling,' Royals manager Ned Yost said of Hochevar. ``Sometimes he can go into the third, fourth, fifth inning with no runs, he's painting, and then it's a series of mistakes. When I say 'mistake' I mean a pitch that isn't where he wants it. His stuff the first four innings was as good as you'd want it.'
Yost let Hochevar go out for the seventh and the Diamondbacks promptly scored three runs.
``I don't want him to become a six-inning pitcher,' Yost said. ``I want to give him a chance to get through this. But you can only give that opportunity for so long and then you have to make an adjustment.'
Hochevar (4-8) is 1-5 in his past eight starts. Hochevar, the first pick in the 2006 draft, yielded five runs on eight hits. He struck out six and walked one in seven innings, with his earned run average climbing to 4.97.
``I thought I was pitching pretty well until the seventh and I gave up a couple of hits down the line,' Hochevar said. ``Whatever it is, I need to figure it out. I'm going to sit down and watch some video and try to see where it is, if I'm throwing the same in that part of the game as I was in the first part. Whatever it is, we need to figure it out.
``It's really frustrating when a 2-1 game goes to 5-1. I need to find a way to keep things rolling.'
Pena, just promoted from Triple-A Reno where he topped the Pacific Coast League with 21 home runs, hit a towering shot to right-center with two out in the fifth to tie the score 1-1. Pena's previous home run was June 24, 2008, while with the Washington Nationals.
Joe Saunders (4-7), who started the season 0-5, picked up his fourth victory in six starts. He held the Royals to six hits and two runs over seven innings, his 10th consecutive start pitching at least six innings. He has a 4-0 record in six career starts against Kansas City.
Chris Young padded the Diamondbacks' lead with his 15th home run in the eighth after Stephen Drew walked.
The Diamondbacks scored three runs in the seventh. Gerardo Parra stroked a two-run triple to right and scored on Ryan Roberts' ground out. The Diamondbacks took the lead in the sixth when Justin Upton's double scored Kelly Johnson, who had a bunt single.
Alex Gordon led the Royals with three hits, needing only a single for the cycle, and drove in both runs. He led off the game with a home run and his triple in the seventh scored Alcides Escobar, who had walked.
Notes: OF Jarrod Dyson, who was used primarily as a pinch runner and stole nine bases in as many attempts to start the season for Kansas City, was recalled from Triple-A Omaha, where he hit .288 with 14 stolen bases in 29 games. Manager Ned Yost said Dyson would probably return to the minors Friday when LHP Bruce Chen is reinstated from the disabled list and start that night against the Cubs. ... LHP Danny Duffy, who departed his start Sunday in St. Louis after 3 2-3 innings with cramps in his left calf, will make his next start Saturday against the Cubs. ... RHP Kyle Davies, who is on the 15-day DL with rotator cuff inflammation, will make one more minor league rehab start before rejoining the Royals rotation July 1. ... Arizona RHP Sam Demel, who has a 1.72 ERA before going on the disabled list May 24 with shoulder tendinitis, threw on the side Tuesday and will throw a simulated game this weekend.
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