KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—Miguel Olivo(notes) didn’t think Luke Hochevar(notes) struggled. He didn’t believe the Royals missed some early chances against Nick Blackburn(notes). That triple he hit in the seventh inning? Single all the way.
Either Olivo was being a contrarian or wasn’t watching the same game as everyone else. Whatever it is, the guy sure did some damage to the Minnesota Twins.
Olivo homered, tripled and drove in two runs, Hochevar overcame some shaky moments in seven scoreless innings and Kansas City beat the Twins 4-2 on Monday night to end a five-game home losing streak.
Fresh after a day off, Olivo had three of Kansas City’s 12 hits, finished a double short of the cycle and called a solid game behind the plate, guiding Hochevar through some early trouble to help the Royals get a much-needed win at home.
“As you start approaching midseason, I think he felt a little bit more refreshed from what his body has been going through,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said. “I think the day off really helped him and it was good to get that kind of production from him.”
Olivo scored Kansas City’s first run on an error in the second inning, then helped break open a close game by following Alberto Callaspo’s(notes) leadoff homer in the sixth with his 12th of the season. Olivo finished off the three-hit night with a run-scoring triple in the seventh, chugging around the bases as the ball rolled all the way to the wall.
So what did he have to say after his big night? Not much, other than disagreeing with nearly everything he was asked.
“I see the ball and hit it. That’s it,” he said.
Despite what Olivo did or didn’t see, the Royals did miss some early chances against Blackburn (6-4).
The right-hander gave up an unearned run in the second inning—thanks to Michael Cuddyer’s(notes) wild throw from right field—and allowed at least one baserunner in every inning he pitched. Blackburn worked out of a tough jam in the fifth, surviving two outfield flyballs with a runner on third then striking out Mark Teahen(notes) with the bases loaded.
He wasn’t so fortunate in the sixth.
Callaspo, once considered nothing more than a slap hitter, led off the inning by hitting his fifth homer of the season just over the wall in right. Not bad for a guy who opened his career without a homer in 441 at-bats.
Olivo followed with his homer to put the Royals up 3-0 and Blackburn didn’t come out for the seventh after allowing three runs and 10 hits.
“I was a little off early, but made pretty good adjustments late,” said Blackburn, who gave up four two-out hits. “The two home runs were just bad pitches.”
Hochevar (3-3), despite Olivo’s proclamation, struggled with fastball command early, allowing eight hitters—four on walks—to reach base in the first three innings. He worked through the traffic, though, holding the Twins hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position.
The right-hander retired 10 straight after a leadoff double by Cuddyer in the fourth inning and didn’t come out for the eighth after allowing two hits.
“My fastball command wasn’t there and I just had to make the adjustment, go to my other four pitches until my fastball command came back,” Hochevar said.
Justin Morneau(notes), who hit a three-run homer in a win over St. Louis on Sunday, followed Hochevar’s exit with his 18th homer, a two-out, two-run shot off John Bale(notes) that cut Kansas City’s lead to 4-2. But that was it for the Twins. Joakim Soria(notes) closed out the combined five-hitter, striking out the side in ninth for his 10th save in 12 chances.
Minnesota finished 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and had errors on two relatively benign plays.
“We’ve been playing pretty good, but we just had a clunker here tonight,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who was ejected in the sixth inning for arguing about a ball he thought hit Jason Kubel’s(notes) foot. “We just didn’t make enough plays out there.”
NOTES: Twins 3B Joe Crede(notes) was scratched from the lineup as a precaution due to back stiffness. … Royals RHP Gil Meche(notes), who’s had trouble with a dead arm his past two starts, will make his scheduled start on Wednesday after throwing in the bullpen without trouble. … The Royals signed RHO Chad Orvella(notes) to a minor-league contract and assigned him to Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Orvella played 69 games with Tampa Bay from 2005-07, but sat out last season with a shoulder injury.