Unlucky seventh hurts Royals in loss to O's

Unlucky seventh hurts Royals in loss to O's

Unlucky seventh hurts Royals in loss to O's
KANSAS CITY -- Inning No. 7 has been anything but lucky for right-hander Luke Hochevar this season.

The Royals led 3-2 going into the seventh on Thursday, but Hochevar and reliever Aaron Crow combined to allow three runs in the frame, propelling the Orioles to a 5-3 win at Kauffman Stadium.

Hochevar entered the matinee with a 16.20 ERA in the seventh inning this season, and the seventh-inning blues struck again. After Hochevar allowed a leadoff single to Wilson Betemit, Chris Davis smacked a line drive to center field. The ball was misplayed by center fielder Jarrod Dyson and skipped by him, going all the way to the wall. Betemit scored to tie the game at 3.

Hochevar was then lifted in favor of Crow, who recorded two quick outs before walking a pair of Orioles to load the bases. J.J. Hardy then hit a broken-bat single into right field to score two runs and give Baltimore a two-run lead it would not relinquish.

"I didn't get the job done," Crow said. "Putting those two guys on gave them an extra run. In that situation, you've got to go out and attack those guys, and if they beat you so be it. But you just can't give guys free bases. It ended up hurting me today."

Hochevar wasn't haunted by a big inning as he'd been in previous starts, but he still took the loss. The right-hander, who fell to 3-4, went six innings and gave up four runs on seven hits and one walk, while striking out six. With the two earned runs in the seventh, his seventh-inning ERA ballooned to 26.99 on the season.

"My job is to go out and compete like crazy, and win the ballgame," Hochevar said. "There in the seventh inning, that's not what I want to have happen. ... That's my job to kind of slam the door right there in the end. They put two good swings on the ball, and that's not how I want to end a day."

The inning's biggest play was arguably the line drive that skipped by Dyson. Instead of a single putting runners at first and second, the hit scored a run and put another baserunner in scoring position. Dyson was given an error, despite the play being a tricky one to make.

"I thought it was higher than what it was," Dyson said. "And I ran at the end to catch it, and I was going to dive for it and I realized I couldn't. And I tried to take a step back and catch it, and it was too late. It was already up on me. And I should've done a better job and got my body in front of the ball."

"I want him to be aggressive, but I don't want the ball getting by him in that situation. It's a lot different story with first and second there," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "You do not want the ball to get by you. That opened up a whole different can of worms for us."

For the second straight day, the Royals led heading into the late innings. Catcher Humberto Quintero fueled a three-run third inning for Kansas City against Baltimore starter Brian Matusz. After Alcides Escobar and Irving Falu led off the inning with back-to-back singles, Quintero smashed a line drive double over the head of center fielder Adam Jones. The hit scored two, and Quintero came in on a Johnny Giavotella single later in the inning to increase the lead to 3-0.

Matusz settled down after that, going sixinnings and allowing just three runs, while earning his third win of the season.

"[Matusz] went back out there and kept throwing strikes," Jones said. "I told him, 'We're going to get you some runs. Don't worry about it.'"

Jones wasn't making an empty promise, as the Orioles struck right back in the next inning. Jones homered in his third consecutive game, this one a two-run shot to left-center off Hochevar that narrowed the Kansas City lead to 3-2. That's where the game stood before Baltimore's seventh-inning rally.

It seemed like a repeat performance of the game one day earlier, when Kansas City allowed Baltimore to score four runs after the seventh inning in a 4-3 loss in 15 innings. The loss was yet another at Kauffman Stadium for the Royals, who are now 4-15 in their home ballpark.

"It's real tough because you want to defend home so bad," Dyson said. "We had a game [Wednesday] we let get away from us. The same with today, we let one get away from us. It's kind of frustrating when you know you had the game won."

Vinnie Duber is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.