New York Luke Hochevar was much more effective than usual against the New York Yankees. That still wasn’t enough to win.
Robinson Cano homered, Phil Hughes beat Hochevar for the second time this month, and the slumping Yankees eked out a 3-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night.
New York tagged Hochevar for seven runs and seven hits over 21⁄3 innings May 6, and he entered this start 0-2 with an 8.83 ERA in four career games against the Yankees.
He hung tough, though, coughing up a 2-0 lead but keeping Kansas City close when New York appeared poised to break loose.
“He did a great job of controlling it and keeping us in the game and giving us a chance to win,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “I thought that he pitched very well.”
Derek Jeter delivered a bases-loaded single that tied the score, and New York rallied from an early two-run deficit to snap a three-game skid. Shut out Monday in the series opener, the Yankees (22-21) went 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position — one night after they finished 0-for-13 in those situations for their worst performance with RISP since 1990.
Hochevar (3-5) lost the lead in the fifth but pitched his way out of a major jam. The top pick in the 2006 amateur draft, he allowed three runs and six hits in 62⁄3 innings, striking out eight and walking three.
“That fifth inning, that’s what really cost me,” Hochevar said. “Going through the heart of the lineup, it’s a grind. But I just tried to stay on the attack and continue to make quality pitches and fight my way through the inning.”
New York, which had lost six of seven to drop into a last-place tie with Boston in the AL East, now has eight hits in its last 79 at-bats (.101) with runners in scoring position.
Hughes (4-5) gave up five hits in six innings while striking out seven, beating Hochevar for the second time in 17 days.
The Yankees caught a break when Mike Moustakas lined into a double play to end the eighth. Rafael Soriano worked the ninth for his third save, retiring Alcides Escobar with a runner on third to end Kansas City’s five-game winning streak away from home.
Alex Rodriguez fielded Escobar’s grounder behind third base and made a high throw across the diamond. Mark Teixeira stretched out his 6-foot-3 frame and kept his toe on the bag as New York got the call on a bang-bang play.
“I don’t think there’s many other first basemen in the league that could stretch like that and make that play,” Hughes said.
“Had ‘em all the way,” Jeter said.
Cano put the Yankees on the scoreboard with a long solo homer in the fourth, making him 6 for 12 with three home runs and nine RBIs against Hochevar — including a grand slam May 6 in Kansas City.
Teixeira singled through the shift to start the fifth and went to second when Jeff Francoeur bobbled the ball in right for an error. Russell Martin was grazed by a pitch and Dewayne Wise reached on a perfectly placed bunt single even though the Royals were expecting a sacrifice.
Once again, the Yankees had the bases loaded and none out with big hitters coming up. They came up empty in that situation during Monday night’s 6-0 defeat, but not this time.
Jeter dumped an RBI single into right and Curtis Granderson drove in a run with a groundout, giving New York a 3-2 lead.
Cano was intentionally walked to load the bases for Rodriguez, and the Yankees had a chance to really bust it open. But Rodriguez struck out, drawing boos from the crowd of 37,674, and Raul Ibanez went down swinging as well.
“I feel like I’m about to go off,” Rodriguez said. “I feel this team is about to go on a good hot streak.”
New York never managed another baserunner.
“Hoch pitched great. He did a great job in that inning. They didn’t really hit the ball hard,” Yost said. “He limited the damage big-time.”
Kansas City grabbed an early lead when No. 9 batter Humberto Quintero went the other way on Hughes’ hanging curve for an RBI double in the second.
Francoeur added a solo shot in the fourth, his third homer this season and second in two nights at Yankee Stadium.