It’s just one game but, after their monthlong nightmare, the Royals can at least enjoy kicking July in the backside on the way out with Tuesday’s 8-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium.
“You know what was big?” left fielder Alex Gordon asked. “We played like (horsespit) over the weekend (in Seattle), and we come back from that road trip and have the fans come out like that.
“To come home and have that support was great. I think it sparked us. If I was a fan, I probably wouldn’t have showed up today with the way we’d played. But they did, and it was a great environment.”
That was unprompted. So take a bow if you were among the 18,569.
The Royals also found, in struggling Cleveland starter Derek Lowe, a tonic for their inconsistent attack. And Luke Hochevar overcame his own recent struggles and some early yips to work through six innings.
“We came right out of the gate swinging the bats well,” manager Ned Yost said. “Hoch was a little shaky in the (early) innings but kind of settled down.”
The Royals raked Lowe for seven runs and eight hits in 21/3 innings in building a five-run cushion. Hochevar handed that margin to the bullpen, and Tim Collins and Aaron Crow nursed it home.
The Royals broke a five-game skid and won for just the seventh time in their last 28 games. They finished with 14 hits in a balanced attack with Chris Getz’s two-run double highlighting a decisive five-run third inning.
“The last week, that didn’t happen,” said Alcides Escobar, who contributed a two-run single in the second and an RBI triple in the third. “On that road trip, it seemed like we only got five or six hits every game.”
Jarrod Dyson matched a career high with three hits, while Gordon had three hits — including two doubles, which boosted his league-leading total to 36.
Hochevar, 7-9, posted his first victory in four postbreak starts despite giving up two runs in the second and another run in the third. Collins worked two scoreless innings before Crow pitched the ninth.
“It was just a good team win,” Hochevar said, “coming off that road trip.”
Lowe, 8-10, allowed one run in the first and two more in the second before exiting in the five-run third. He gave up 13 runs over nine innings in his two previous starts, and his ERA is up to 5.52.
“Just mistake after mistake,” he said. “You can’t sugarcoat it and sit here and say that you’ve been pitching good and got a few bad breaks, because that would just be a lie.”
The Royals grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first after Gordon led off with a single to deep short. He moved to second on Escobar’s sacrifice before scoring on Lorenzo Cain’s single up the middle.
Brantley then opened the Cleveland second with a single to center and moved to third on Carlos Santana’s double to right. Hochevar struck out Travis Hafner but broke late to first on Johnny Damon’s grounder to first.
“That’s the second time I’ve done that in two games,” Hochevar said, “and it just can’t happen. That’s one thing I can get done — to get over there. That’s extremely frustrating. That’s when you get really upset with yourself.”
Instead of a run-scoring out, it turned into a run-scoring single that put runners at first and third with one out. Casey Kotchman’s hit-and-run single gave Cleveland a 2-1 lead and moved Damon to third.
Hochevar prevented further damage by striking out Jack Hannahan and Shin-Soo Choo.
The Royals answered with a two-out flurry later in the inning.
Getz punched a single into center before Dyson’s high hopper skipped off Kotchman’s glove at first for a double. A walk to Gordon loaded the bases, and Escobar rammed a two-run single through the infield’s right side for a 3-2 lead.
It didn’t last.
Asdrubal Cabrera started the Cleveland third with a drive to deep center that Dyson reached but couldn’t hold after slamming into the wall. The result was a double. Cabrera went to third on Jason Kipnis’ grounder to second and scored on a wild pitch.
In the third, the Royals blew the game open with five runs, knocking out Lowe and ending the scoring.
“We needed a win, man,” Escobar said. “Everybody knows we need to play better. We’ve just got to keep going tomorrow.”
It’s a new month.