MINNEAPOLIS — Luke Hochevar got his first victory in eight starts Wednesday because, well, the Royals simply weren’t going to let it end any other way.
The Royals put a 10-5 thumping on the Minnesota Twins by batting around in a five-run fifth inning and again in a four-run eighth inning. That was enough to get Hochevar over the hump for the first time since July 31.
“I wanted him to get him over that hump,” manager Ned Yost said. “He was working hard out there. Maybe a little too hard. But he was trying with everything he had to get over that hump, too. I was bound and determined to give him every opportunity to do it.”
It wasn’t as easy as that sounds.
Hochevar, 8-13, gave up one run in the first and two more in the third, which put the Royals in a 3-0 hole. After the Royals rallied to a 6-3 lead with a five-run fifth, he gave up two runs in the bottom of the inning — after retiring the first two batters.
“My command was poor, but we did a great job as a team of picking me up,” Hochevar admitted. “I gave up those three (runs) early, and then we just put on a barrage in the fifth. That was huge by our offense. They picked me up.
“The bullpen came in and did a great job. I left them a lot of groundwork to do by only going five innings.”
The Royals kept coming offensively in a 14-hit attack that included contributions from every starter. Salvy Perez hit a homer in the fourth inning, which extended his career-best hitting streak to 16 games.
All of the rest were singles — but that’s a lot of singles. The early damage came against starter P.J. Walters, who failed to retire a batter in the five-run fifth. Walters, 2-4, gave up six runs in four-plus innings.
“He was pitching well early, and then we just got a big inning,” designated hitter Billy Butler said. “We loaded the bases and got a couple of bloops. Then we broke it open.”
Minnesota left fielder Ryan Doumit, normally a catcher, helped out by making three errors in the four-run eighth inning. And relievers Tim Collins, Kelvin Herrera and Francisley Bueno combined for four shutout innings.
Butler led the attack with three hits and three RBIs, which boosted his season total to 91 — the third time in four years that he’s topped 90 RBIs. Perez and Alex Gordon each had two RBIs. David Lough, Alcides Escobar and Perez each had two hits.
Hochevar needed 110 pitches to get through the requisite five innings for the victory and handed a 6-5 lead when Collins, who worked two innings. Herrera pitched the eighth before Bueno closed out the victory.
“I’ll take it any day of the week,” Hochevar said. “Of course (a winless streak) wears on you. Luckily, tonight our offense picked me up.”
The Royals are 4-1 on a six-game trip that ends Thursday with the opportunity for a three-game sweep. They won two of three last weekend at Chicago.
It was still just 6-5 when Eric Hosmer started the eighth with a single against Anthony Swarzak. Johnny Giavotella followed with a drive into the left-center gap that Doumit dropped for an error.
Doumit’s inning was about to get worse.
Lough’s attempted sacrifice turned into a foul pop to the catcher before the Twins replaced Swarzak with Casey Fien.
Escobar waged a 12-pitch battle with Fien that culminated with a line single to left. Hosmer scored when Doumit bobbled the ball, and Giavotella and Escobar moved to second and third when Doumit made a wild throw to the plate.
Two errors on the play.
“Escobar’s at-bat was phenomenal,” Yost said. “That kind of epitomized it right there for us.”
Tyler Robertson replaced Fien and got Gordon to hit a hard grounder to second, which Alexi Casilla stopped with a dive — but the throw to the plate was off-line, and the Royals led 8-5.
Another pitching change: Kyle Waldrop for Robertson to face Butler, who pulled a single through the left side for a 9-5 lead. Perez followed with an RBI single that extended the lead to five runs.
Hochevar found early trouble when Denard Span opened the Minnesota first by whacking a 1-2 curve into the right-center gap for a triple. Josh Willingham delivered the run with a one-out single on a full-count fastball.
Span also started the Twins’ third by whacking a 1-2 fastball into center for a single. A one-out walk by Willingham, on four pitches, moved Span to second. Justin Morneau worked back from a 1-2 hole for a walk that loaded the bases.
Four straight balls to Doumit forced in a run. Hochevar jumped ahead 0-2 on Jamey Carroll before surrendering a sacrifice fly that gave Minnesota a 3-0 lead.
Perez started the Royals’ comeback with a one-out homer in the fourth before Walters failed to record an out in a five-run fifth.
Hosmer led off with a walk before singles by Giavotella and Lough loaded the bases. Two more singles, by Escobar and Gordon, each produced one run and tied the game at 3-3. Butler then drove a two-run single over Doumit’s head for a 5-3 lead.
“It bounced back pretty hard off the wall,” Butler said. “I was hoping it got out of there. I did (think it was out), but I knew I hit it with a little bit of topspin. The ball wasn’t really carrying tonight. Salvy got one out, but Salvy is really strong.”
Butler’s two-run single finished Walters. In came Swarzak, who retired Perez and Mike Moustakas on pop-ups, but Lorenzo Cain drove a single to right for a 6-3 lead.
Hochevar got two quick outs in the Minnesota fifth before allowing the Twins back into the game. He walked Morneau, and Doumit followed with a double past third before Carroll drove a two-run single into center.
The Twins were back within 6-5 but got no closer.