Kansas City, Mo. Luke Hochevar took some time to reflect during the All-Star break. He has pitched like an All-Star since then.
Hochevar pitched neatly into the eighth inning, Billy Butler homered and drove in four runs, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Orioles, 6-2, Wednesday night.
Hochevar (8-8), the first player picked in the 2006 draft, is 4-0 in his past seven starts and has matched the longest winning streak of his career. He also set a personal high for wins in a season, having gone 7-13 in 2009.
“It gave me time to sit down and look at the things I wanted to do,” Hochevar said of his time off. “I just looked down the road, what I wanted things to look like in a month and the things I needed to do to get there. Just really keeping the game simple and let things come to me instead of just trying so hard, just play the game instead of working at it.
“I’m just going out and trying to execute quality pitches and try to keep it as simple as possible and just make good pitches really, changing speeds, keeping guys guessing, not being predictable,” he said. “You can do those things, but if you’re not executing, they’re good enough hitters to square the ball up. That’s really where my focus has been, making quality pitches.”
Hochevar allowed one earned run and four hits in 71⁄3 innings. He struck out seven, walked one and retired 16 straight batters during one stretch.
Hochevar is 3-0 with a 2.70 earned-run average in his past four starts.
“Hoch has been on a roll since the All-Star break,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He was terrific. He pitched up, pitched down, pitched in, pitched out. He’s refined his approach and simplified it.”
Jeremy Guthrie (5-15) yielded six runs on eight hits in seven innings. He leads the majors in losses.
Hochevar gave up a run in the first when Adam Jones doubled with two outs and scored on Vladimir Guerrero’s single, but did not allow another hit until the eighth.
“We didn’t mount much offense,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “That was the story of the game.”