By Jordan Bastian and Jeffrey Flanagan
KANSAS CITY -- Eric Hosmer blasted a three-run homer and the Royals survived a shaky start from Edinson Volquez to hold off the Cleveland Indians, 7-4, on Thursday in a game that's start was delayed two hours and 17 minutes by rain.
Hosmer's homer came during a four-run first inning off American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, who fell to 0-5. Kluber gave up seven hits and five runs in 5 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out seven.
"They've got a lot of guys hot and they're swinging with confidence," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "That's a tough lineup."
Volquez breezed through a 1-2-3 first before he totally lost his command, primarily because he developed a painful blister on his throwing thumb (he is not expected to miss a start). Volquez walked two hitters in the second inning and then four in the third before manager Ned Yost pulled him with the Royals up, 4-3.
The Royals, though, got six strong innings from their bullpen, the last frame coming from closer Greg Holland, just off the disabled list. Franklin Morales got the win with two shutout innings.
"Holly looks like he never went on the disabled list," Yost said. "And Morales was fantastic."
Carlos Santana homered for Cleveland in the seventh, the only run off the Royals' bullpen.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Dropping the ball: After Kluber opened things up by hitting Alex Gordon with a pitch in the first inning, Mike Moustakas followed with a single to right field. Indians outfielder Brandon Moss collected the ball, but he bobbled it and dropped it to the grass. Gordon motored around the basepaths, scoring from first base thanks to the error. That helped get the Royals rolling toward a four-run outburst out of the gates. More >
"In the first inning, he worked from behind in the count and he paid for it," Francona said of Kluber. "To his credit, man, he battled his [rear] off and he started working ahead a lot more. And when he worked ahead, he was very good. That's a rough start and I think he knew, 'If they get much more, we're in trouble.' He gave us a chance."
Another Hoz rocket: Hosmer continues to punish the Indians, as he clobbered his third homer against the Tribe in the last 10 days. Hosmer's homer off Kluber, a three-run shot in the first, was an absolute rocket that left the stadium on a line over the center-field fence. It was estimated at 416 feet but never seemed to get more than 30 feet off the ground. That homer put the Royals up, 4-0.
"I was just trying to put a good swing on it," Hosmer said. "I'm just in a good place right now."
Watch and walk: Cleveland mounted a brief rally in the third inning, when Volquez's command abandoned him. With two outs, the Royals starter walked Lonnie Chisenhall to load the bases, and then issued consecutive free passes with the bags full to David Murphy and Michael Bourn. That forced two runs across the plate for the Tribe, cutting Kansas City's advantage to 4-3 at the time.
"He threw a lot of pitches," Francona said. "I thought we did a good job of laying off the changeup, for the most part. We weren't hitting the ball all over the ballpark, but because he was scattering some pitches, and we weren't chasing, we got back into the game."
Special moment for Hochevar: Right-hander Luke Hochevar made his first appearance in a Royals uniform since Sept. 29, 2013. Hochevar, who had Tommy John surgery in March 2014, set the Indians down in order in the sixth. He struck out the first two hitters he faced and his fastball reached 95 mph.
"It was a long time coming," Hochevar said. "It feels awesome to be back and to be a contributor again instead of a bona fide fan.
"But it felt pretty normal to me. You get the adrenaline rush at first, but then it felt fairly normal. I wasn't too jacked up or overamped."
"I thought it was a step in the right direction, as far as keeping guys off-balance and mixing in and out better and not just kind of sticking to the same spot over and over again. Aside from those first four batters, I thought it was better. Obviously, it's still not exactly where we want to be, but it's a step in the right direction." -- Kluber, on his outing
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Kluber exited Thursday's outing in Kansas City still in search of his first win of the season. According to STATS, Kluber joins Frank Viola (1989) and Zack Greinke (2010) as the only reigning Cy Young Award winners to go without a win in the first seven starts of their follow-up campaign.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: The Tribe returns home on Friday to begin a three-game set against the Twins. Right-hander Trevor Bauer, who picked up a no-decision against the Blue Jays in his last start, will take the mound for the Indians. On Sunday, Bauer yielded six runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings versus Toronto.
Royals:Yordano Ventura makes his first start after serving a seven-game suspension as the Royals open a three-game set with the Tigers in Detroit. The Royals may also get shortstop Alcides Escobar back from the seven-day concussion disabled list.