Kansas City, Mo. After a long, tough homestand, Jeff Francoeur is ready to hit the road.
With Francoeur driving in two runs and Luke Hochevar pitching seven effective innings, the Kansas City Royals ended their longest stretch of home games Thursday with a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. It was just their fourth win in the 11-game stand at Kauffman Stadium.
Now the Royals will open a nine-game trip Friday night against the Los Angeles Angels.
“Maybe this will be good for us, to kind of get out on the road for a while and get away,” Francoeur said. “The homestand started out great, went sour, and then we finished on a nice, positive note.”
Hochevar (4-6) won for the first time in seven starts and the Royals survived Joakim Soria’s shaky ninth to split the four-game series with Toronto.
Soria, reclaiming the closer role he lost May 30 after back-to-back blown saves, loaded the bases in the ninth but got his eighth save in 13 opportunities.
“It’s never easy,” Soria said. “The last couple outings, I was pitching good. This was a tough one. We got the win, That’s all that matters.”
In a move that’s certain to have fans stirring, the Royals announced after the game they were bringing up third baseman Mike Moustakas, their 2007 first-round draft pick, and letting him make his much-anticipated major league debut against the Angels. He’ll also be reunited with first baseman Eric Hosmer, the 2008 first-round pick who was brought up on May 6 and has been the Royals’ best hitter.
“I’m really excited. One of my best friends in professional baseball,” Hosmer said. “It’s going to be fun. We’ve been texting back and forth.”
Edwin Encarnacion and Juan Rivera hit one-out singles off Soria, a two-time All-Star, then Mike McCoy, after being down 0-2, drew his fourth walk of the day to load the bases with two out. But Soria got Corey Patterson on an infield popup, giving the Royals their fifth win in 19 games.
Hochevar allowed two runs in the fourth but nothing else in seven innings. The right-hander gave up six hits, walked three and struck out three for his first win in seven starts since May 1.
“You never want to go through those stretches,” Hochevar said. “Sometimes they happen. You’ve just got to battle through them and stay positive and continue to pound the strike zone and do what you do.”
Ricky Romero (5-6) pitched an eight-inning complete game for Toronto, allowing three runs on eight hits, with two walks and four strikeouts.
“I hate losing, bottom line, if I got beat by 10 runs or one run,” Romero said. “I’m a competitor. I have heart. I take a lot of pride in that. I hate losing. It’s unfortunate we lost. It stinks.”
Alcides Escobar singled in the third and scored the first run on Hosmer’s soft single into right. Hosmer has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games.
Melky Cabrera then reached on a fielder’s choice and Francoeur rifled a two-run single into right as the Royals kept the Blue Jays from winning a series in Kansas City for the first time since 2003.
Francoeur was out at the plate on a strong throw from Jose Bautista after Billy Butler singled into right.
In the Blue Jays’ second, Bautista reached on a fielder’s choice, Adam Lind singled and J.P. Arencibia tripled into left field. Mitch Maier made a leap for the ball, but it hit the wall and bounced back toward center field as Lind and Bautista scored.
Aaron Hill walked, but Hochevar retired Encarnacion on a fly ball to end the inning.
The Blue Jays had runners at second and third with two out in the eighth. but Aaron Crow coaxed a grounder out of Arencibia.
Lind was 3 for 4, all singles.
Notes: Infielder Mike Aviles is going down to Omaha. ... Toronto’s Jose Bautista has reached safely in 52 of his 55 games. ... Maier started in left field and led off for the Royals for the first time this year. ... Royals have played 16 games in a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. ... Mike Aviles was caught too far off first base in the second inning and thrown out by Romero.