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KC@MIN: Escobar's 12-pitch AB results in a run

MINNEAPOLIS -- Luke Hochevar was struggling but Royals manager Ned Yost was determined to get him a long-sought victory.

And he did. Hochevar was off his game, but the Royals' bats were in tune and he still gained his first win since July 31 in Kansas City's 10-5 romp over the Twins on Wednesday night as 28,139 fans chilled out at 55-degree Target Field.

Hochevar gave up five runs and was grimly hanging onto a 6-5 lead in the fifth inning. To qualify for a victory, he needed to make it through that inning.

"He hasn't won a game in his last seven starts and I wanted to get him over that hump," 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. Part of my job is to get guys in a frame of mind so they can go out and compete and be successful. Sometimes you've got to let 'em work through some things."

And Hochevar emerged with a record of 8-13, thanks to an energetic 14-hit offense. Just one extra-base hit was included.

That was Salvador Perez's home run in the fourth inning against Twins starter P.J. Walters, a right-hander. Perez deposited a 2-1 pitch into the left-center field bullpen, a 410-foot shot for the Royals' first run.

Perez, who later added an RBI single, extended his hitting streak to 16 games, his personal best and the team high this season. He's tied with the Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman for the longest active streak in the Majors; Zimmerman also homered in the fourth inning against the Mets to reach 16 on Wednesday night. Perez matched A.J. Pierzynski's 16 games for the White Sox, longest by a catcher this season.

But before that, Hochevar surrendered three runs and, at one point, issued three straight walks. By the third inning he'd already thrown 72 pitches.

"But we did a great job as a team picking me up," Hochevar said. "I gave up those three early, and then we go out and just put on a barrage in the fifth."

Eric Hosmer walked and was followed by five straight singles -- by Johnny Giavotella, David Lough, Alcides Escobar, Alex Gordon and Billy Butler. The line drive by Butler banged off the left-field wall and knocked in two runs, ending Walters' outing. Reliever Anthony Swarzak got two outs before Lorenzo Cain singled in the fifth run of the inning.

Butler has gone 23 games without hitting the 100th home run of his career and he thought that smash high off the wall might be it.

"I was hoping it got out of there," he said. "The ball wasn't really carrying tonight. I mean, Salvy got one out, but Salvy's really strong. I thought I got it, but obviously I needed a foot."

Butler wound up with three RBIs in the game, reaching the 91 mark.

"It's guys in front of me getting on, and I'm hitting good in those situations," Butler said. "Heck, I think we've got 20 games left. See if we can't get to 100. That'd be a great accomplishment."

So there could be a couple of 100s in Butler's near future.

Hochevar made it through the fifth inning but barely, as Jamey Carroll slapped a two-run single, tightening the score to 6-5. Hochevar stayed in the game and got the third out, but that was it for him.

"My command was poor, but I just had to find a way to get through those innings," Hochevar said.

In five innings, Hochevar gave up five runs on six hits and four walks. He threw 110 pitches. Tim Collins took over in the sixth and pitched the first two of four scoreless innings by the bullpen. Kelvin Herrera and Francisley Bueno each worked one inning.

"The bullpen did a great job of holding a one-run lead until we could score four more," Yost said.

Those four came in a wild eighth inning that included three errors by Twins left fielder Ryan Doumit, normally a catcher. He dropped Giavotella's deep fly ball for the first error.

With two runners on, Escobar went to war for 12 pitches with Casey Fien, one of five relievers used in the inning by the Twins. Escobar won, drilling a single to left field.

"Escobar's at-bat was phenomenal," Yost said. "It kind of epitomized it right there for us."

Doumit kind of epitomized the Twins. He bobbled Escobar's ball for his second error, recovered it and heaved it past home plate for his third error. Only one run scored in that mess, but three more were to follow later in the inning.

Doumit was the first Twins player to make three errors in one inning since Sept. 3, 1973, when shortstop Danny Thompson made three against, yes, Kansas City. He's also the first Major League outfielder to commit three errors in the same inning since Sept. 9, 1989, when the Tigers' Scott Lusader did it against the White Sox.

"I feel extremely comfortable [in left field]," Doumit insisted. "Tonight was just one of those nights. I just took my eye off the ball. When you take your eye of the ball, bad things happen. I'm going to have days like this. It's part of the learning curve. It's embarrassing. But I'm going to learn from it and go out and get 'em tomorrow."

That would be Thursday night when these teams wrap up their season's business. The last-place Twins had been quite annoying, prevailing in 10 of the first 14 meetings between the American League Central rivals, but the Royals have won the last three games by a combined score of 25-10.

Maybe the Royals are finally seeing the Twins that the rest of the league saw this year.

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