KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Luke Hochevar was perfect for five innings and far from it in the sixth.
After retiring the first 15 Cleveland batters, Hochevar gave up four runs on five hits, a walk and two balks in the sixth as the first-place Indians beat the second-place Kansas City Royals 7-5 on Wednesday night.
Michael Brantley led off the sixth with a single off Hochevar (2-2), who threw 36 pitches in the inning after dispatching the Indians on 60 pitches the first five innings.
``His stuff for the first five innings was as good as I've ever seen it,' Royals manager Ned Yost said. ``Brantley led off the sixth with a hit and he just unraveled. The two balks hurt him. He just could never reel it back in.'
Hochevar had no explanations for it.
``In the end of things, we have a two-run lead and I give up four runs in that inning and that just can't happen,' he said. ``I felt like I was throwing the ball well. The two balks was my fault. There's really no excuse for it. It all lies on me. I've got to make better pitches and get out of that.
``It's frustrating no doubt about it. You move on and get ready for your next start. It's not what you want to have happen or plan to have happened, but it happened. You flush it and move on.'
Yost sent Hochevar back out for the seventh, but pulled him after he walked the first two batters.
``He was so dynamic through five and went through the little rough patch,' Yost said. ``I wanted to see if he could settle down. I wanted to see if he could have a good seventh inning.'
Justin Masterson (4-0) settled down after allowing two runs in the first inning. The right-hander, who was 6-13 a year ago, allowed six hits and five walks and struck out three in six innings.
Melky Cabrera's RBI double in the ninth off Tony Sipp ended a string of 9 1-3 scoreless innings for the Cleveland bullpen and Jeff Francoeur, on an 0-2 pitch with two out, followed with a two-run home run. Francoeur, running his hitting streak to 10 in a row, had three RBIs.
Chris Perez came in to get the last out and earn his sixth save in six opportunities. Before Orlando Cabrera struck out on Hochevar's 36th pitch of the sixth inning, the Indians had taken a 4-2 lead on two-out RBI doubles by Shin-Soo Choo and Travis Hafner.
After Hochevar walked the first two batters in the seventh, Tim Collins relieved and No. 9 hitter Jack Hannahan, after failing to sacrifice, pulled a two-run double into the right-field corner.
With two out, Collins walked Carlos Santana, loading the bases, but Hafner took a called third strike.
Going back to his previous start when he held Seattle to one hit in seven innings, Hochevar had retired 31 in a row, two short of the team record Steve Busby set in 1974.
The Royals took a 2-0 lead in the first on Francoeur's RBI single and an RBI triple by Alex Gordon, who stretched his hitting streak to 14 games, best in the American League.
Masterson gave up a triple, two singles and two walks in the inning but allowed only five more baserunners until he walked the first two batters in the seventh. With two out and the bases loaded, Vinnie Pestano got Mike Aviles on a called third strike.
Santana had an RBI single off Kanekoa Texeira in the ninth.
NOTES: With Gordon having a 14-game hitting streak and Wilson Betemit hitting in 11 straight and Francoeur in 10, the Royals have three players with double-digit streaks for the first time since May 22, 2001. Mike Sweeney on that day had a 13-gamer and Joe Randa and Rey Sanchez had each hit in 10 straight. ... Masterson was only 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in six spring starts after going 6-13 with a 4.70 the year before. ... The Cleveland bullpen started the night with the best ERA (2.47) in the AL.
The Associated Press News Service
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