Hochevar roughed up as Royals fall to A's

Hochevar roughed up as Royals fall to A's

Hochevar roughed up as Royals fall to A's
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals, in this All-Star Game year, wanted to recognize Kansas City's history with the A's on Saturday. But perhaps not so magnanimously.

While many of the 26,276 fans wore giveaway caps in the style of the old Kansas City A's, the modern version from Oakland inflicted a 9-3 loss on the Royals on a splendid sunny afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.

The 1960 vintage caps commemorated the All-Star Game hosted that year in Kansas City by the A's -- as the Royals will do this year on July 10. But, as it turned out, the 2012 A's got to celebrate the end of their nine-game losing streak while ending the Royals' three-game victory spurt.

If the weather was beautiful, the baseball was not -- at least as Royals manager Ned Yost viewed it.

"It was sloppy all the way around, really," Yost said. "We just didn't pitch good, we had some opportunities to score some runs and we didn't capitalize on [them] and we made some errors that ended up hurting us."

The pitchers, notably starter Luke Hochevar, yielded nine runs on 10 hits. The hitters were 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position. The fielders made three errors, and they all helped the A's score.

On top of that, an apparent blown call by an umpire went against the Royals, with the same umpire later ejecting catcher Humberto Quintero.

"It was ugly," summed up the Royals' Jeff Francoeur.

Francoeur was the central figure in the controversial call in the sixth inning. Behind 6-1, the Royals were trying to gain traction and added a run on Eric Hosmer's RBI double which sent Francoeur to third base. Frenchy tried to score after Alcides Escobar flied ahead of right fielder Collin Cowgill's throw. As catcher Kurt Suzuki caught the ball and spun around, Francoeur turned acrobat, flipped over the glove and thought he eluded the tag. However, home-plate umpire Paul Schrieber called him out for an inning-ending double play -- a decision that prompted an argument by Francoeur and Yost.

Did Francoeur feel a tag?

"No, you saw it on film. I never got tagged. I told [Schrieber] behind the plate, 'I'm not going to argue on a tag. If you tag me, I understand. But I could feel him [if he had tagged me], and he missed me by six inches,'" Francoeur said. "I came up to bat the next time and Paul said, 'He didn't tag you,' so I guess Kurt had told him he didn't tag me. So I guess he knows now, but it's after the fact."

Afterward, Yost noted the call wasn't that important in the overall scheme of the outcome. But A's manager Bob Melvin was happy to reap the benefit.

"That was huge at the end of that inning. That was really big for us because now that's another run, another guy in scoring position. Now, the game gets a little tighter," Melvin said.

Francoeur was injured on the play, suffering a bruised left heel, but he believes he'll be able to play in Sunday's series finale.

"After I hit the plate when I flipped over, I landed right on my heel," he said.

Schrieber almost immediately became involved in another verbal exchange as the seventh inning got under way. This time, it was Quintero yelling at Schrieber just three pitches into Jemile Weeks' at-bat. Schrieber promptly tossed Quintero, the first ejection of the veteran's career.

"He missed a couple pitches when Hochevar was throwing and I didn't say anything. But when he missed on [Louis] Coleman, I said that one pitch can change the whole ballgame," Quintero said. "That's why I got mad; he missed a lot of pitches."

Hochevar started the game for the Royals and, for the second straight game, made it through just 4 2/3 innings. He was charged with six runs on five hits and three walks and now stands 0-7 in his career against the A's.

"The fact of the matter is, I didn't get it done," Hochevar said. "We scored enough runs to win and we got it done in other places, and it just falls on me."

One place the Royals got it done was at third base, where Mike Moustakas turned in two superb fielding plays. In the fourth inning, he ranged far down the left-field line for Kila Ka'aihue's foul popup, narrowly missing a collision with left fielder Alex Gordon.

But the play that caught Yost's attention was Moose's diving grab of Yoenis Cespedes' hot smash in the seventh inning. He jumped up from the dirt and fired a strike to second baseman Yuniesky Betancourt for a forceout.

"I told him after the game that I doubt that there'll be a better play made in the Major Leagues today than that play right there," Yost said. "That was a phenomenal play."

But it was a gem in a dingy bin.

"It just didn't go well for all of us in any aspect today," Moustakas said. "We didn't pitch well, didn't hit well, didn't field well. You win games as a team and you lose as a team, and today we definitely lost as a team. That's the great thing about this game, though, we get to play tomorrow."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.