St. Petersburg, Fla. — Luke Hochevar did his part with seven strong innings. It was the Kansas City Royals’ offense that came up short.
Casey Kotchman led off the ninth inning with a home run to lift the Tampa Bay Rays to a 2-1 victory over the Royals on Monday night.
Hochevar allowed one run and five hits, keeping Tampa Bay off-balance for most of the game. The right-hander, who had won his previous three starts, had seven strikeouts and two walks.
“I went out and tried to execute quality pitches,” Hochevar said. “We played quality defense again tonight.”
Kotchman drove the first pitch from Blake Wood (5-1) over the center-field fence. He also knocked in the other Tampa Bay run with a run-scoring single that tied it in the seventh.
“I thought it was going to be caught,” Kotchman said of his third homer over the last six games.
Rays rookie Jeremy Hellickson, 3-0 in four starts during July, gave up one run and six hits in 71⁄3 innings. He struck out seven and walked three.
“It was a great game,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. “There was outstanding pitching from both starters. Hochevar was spectacular, and Hellickson was spectacular.”
Eric Hosmer put the Royals ahead, 1-0, on a first-inning RBI single. Alex Gordon, who had been hitless in his first 37 at-bats at Tropicana Field, hit a leadoff double and later scored on Hosmer’s opposite-field hit to left.
Kansas City had a runner in scoring position in four of the first six innings, but went 2-for-10 in those situations. K.C. also failed to take advantage after getting two on with one out during the eighth.