St Petersburg, Fla. — Kansas City reliever Kelvin Herrera got his first major league victory Tuesday night after Royals starter Luke Hochevar and Tampa Bay’s David Price staged a classic pitchers’ duel.
Eric Hosmer’s two-out single in the 10th inning drove in the only run in the Royals’ 1-0 victory that broke the Rays’ five-game winning streak. The run off Joel Peralta (1-5) was unearned after an error on Tampa Bay shortstop Ben Zobrist.
“We knew, the way Price has been pitching the last seven weeks, we had to have Hoch throw a game like he did, and he did,” said Jeff Francoeur, who scored the run after his single that preceded Zobrist’s throwing error. “(Hochevar) matched (Price) pitch for pitch and was better — he gave up one hit.”
Price and Hochevar both pitched eight innings, giving up a combined four hits.
Hochevar, the first overall pick in the 2006 amateur draft, gave up one hit and struck out 10.
Price, the first overall pick in 2007, gave up three hits and struck out eight. It was the second time this month Price pitched eight shutout innings without getting a win to show for it.
“You don’t see that very often anymore, not that dominant on both sides,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “You knew there wasn’t going to be much offense going into it. You were hoping you could scratch out one run, maybe two, and somebody’s going to make a mistake.”
Herrera (1-1) pitched the ninth inning and Greg Holland worked the 10th for his sixth save.
Through the first seven innings, the only player to get as far as second base was Luke Scott, who led off the Rays third with a double and advanced to third on a fly ball. It was the only hit off Hochevar. The only other Ray to reach base in the first five innings was Matt Joyce, who walked and was picked off first base by catcher Salvador Perez.
The only Kansas City runner to reach second base against Price was Hosmer on a stolen base in the eighth inning.
“I felt like tonight was probably the best command that I’ve had all year with my fastball,” said Hochevar, who shut out the Rays at Kansas City on June 25.
The right-hander wasn’t wrapped up in his personal duel with Price.
“It doesn’t matter what that guy over there is doing,” he said. “I know he’s good, and everybody knows he’s good, but that does you no good. You’ve just got to lock into what you do to win the game.”
Price, who gave up seven earned runs to the New York Mets in his most recent loss on June 13, has given up only 15 runs in 12 starts since. Those 12 starts include a franchise-record eight straight wins and a 1.56 ERA, dropping his major league-leading ERA to 2.28.
“Early on I had a lot of hard hit balls right at people, and that’s what you’ve got to have,” Price said. “When you’re going good, that’s what happens. Hochevar threw the ball extremely well again against us.”
It was the 10th win in 14 games for the Royals, who are 4-1 against Tampa Bay this season.
“Anytime you play a game like that and you lose 1-0, of course it’s no fun,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “But overall we played a really good game. We pitched great once again. You can’t be an oil painting every night, man.”
NOTES: The Rays’ Evan Longoria played 3B for the first time since partially tearing his left hamstring on April 30. He had played in 12 games as a DH since being activated on Aug. 7. In his first fielding chance in the second inning, the two-time Gold Glove winner left his feet to spear a line drive hit by Perez . . . Longoria played seven innings and went 0 for 3 . . . In three starts at Tropicana Field before Tuesday night, Hochevar was 0-2 with an 11.20 ERA . . . The Rays activated Scott and optioned INF Sean Rodriguez to Triple-A Durham. Scott had been on the DL since July 21 with an oblique strain.