Not facing Joe Mauer probably helped.
Mauer won't be in the lineup for the second straight game Wednesday night as the Royals try to clinch their first series win against the Twins this season.
Kansas City was 5-10 against Minnesota before a 9-1 win Tuesday. Will Smith struck out seven in seven scoreless innings, Lorenzo Cain hit a two-run triple during a three-run second inning and the Royals broke open a close game with four runs in the eighth.
Salvador Perez , who had two hits, extended his hitting streak to a career-best 15 games while throwing out two runners. He's batting .365 with nine RBIs during the streak.
"That guy's awesome," Smith said about Perez. "He's so good. You love having him back there. You feel confident that the running game, he's just going to completely shut it down."
The Twins came in averaging 5.3 runs and hitting .280 against the Royals this year, including 6.3 runs per game in six meetings at home. With Mauer's back spasms preventing him from playing a second straight game, Minnesota could be hard-pressed to replace its star who is hitting .425 with nine RBIs in 11 games versus the Royals this year and .319 overall.
Luke Hochevar (7-13, 5.36 ERA), who will start for Kansas City, is probably happy he won't have to face Mauer. He's hitting .519 (14 for 27) against the right-hander, including 5 for 7 with two homers this year.
The Twins are hopeful Denard Span will be back in the lineup. He's been on the disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 28, with a clavicle injury. Span is hitting .286 this season, but just .176 (6 for 34) against the Royals.
Hochevar will try to help Kansas City (64-77) secure its first series win against Minnesota (59-83) of more than two games since a three-game sweep April 29-May 1, 2011.
Hochevar, however, is trying to end a seven-start winless streak and avoid a fifth consecutive defeat. The right-hander surrendered four runs and gave up two homers over 6 1-3 innings of a 5-4 loss in 10 innings to Texas last Thursday.
Hochevar is 0-2 with an 8.59 ERA in three starts against the Twins this year. He was pounded for eight runs while issuing four walks over 1 2-3 innings of an 8-7 loss Sept. 1.
P.J. Walters (2-3, 6.05) counters for the Twins, trying to avoid a three-start losing streak.
Walters, who made seven starts in May and June before being placed on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, gave up six runs and two homers in five innings of a 6-2 defeat to Chicago last Wednesday.
"I wasn't missing by a whole lot but enough to be balls and that, to me, that's the big part of the game - not so much the homers, but the three walks," Walters said. "I don't walk those three guys ... maybe it plays out a little different."
The right-hander is making his first start against the Royals.
|Kansas City Royals|
|August 18, 2012||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Broken left thumb|
|August 17, 2012||Chris Getz||Day-to-Day||Left game - fractured left thumb|
|July 28, 2012||Mike Moustakas||Day-to-Day||Left game - sprained right knee|
|July 05, 2012||Luke Hochevar||Day-to-Day||Sprained right ankle|
|June 18, 2012||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Lateral strain in lower left leg|
|June 18, 2012||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Lateral strain in lower left leg|
|September 11, 2012||Joe Mauer||Day-to-Day||Back spasms|
|September 02, 2012||Josh Willingham||Day-to-Day||Slightly strained left hamstring|
|August 28, 2012||Denard Span||Day-to-Day||Sore right collarbone|
|August 28, 2012||Denard Span||15-Day DL||Strained right sternoclavicular joint|
|August 24, 2012||Josh Willingham||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck|
|August 12, 2012||Denard Span||Day-to-Day||Left game - right shoulder injury|
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Kansas City Royals seem as though they've been a team on the rise for years, with each crop of hot young prospects supposedly the group that is going to drag the franchise up from the depths of the AL Central.
Billy Butler is hoping this latest batch of fresh faces will finally help them finish the job.
Butler had three hits and three RBIs, and the Kansas City Royals ' bullpen picked up struggling starter Luke Hochevar with four scoreless innings in a 10-5 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night.
"I just think it's good for our young guys to get confidence. I think every year I've been here we've had good Septembers, but we got a good August and September," Butler said. "Outside of a 12-game losing streak earlier in the season we've played really good baseball. ... We've been really consistent after that, and it's something we can build on in the offseason and it might make us ready sooner."
Salvador Perez homered and drove in two runs for the Royals, who sent 10 batters to the plate in their five-run fifth and another nine in a four-run eighth.
The Royals went 17-11 in August and have won four of their last five games to improve to 6-6 in September. But they remain a few front-of-the-rotation arms away from being a legitimate threat.
Hochevar was supposed to be one of those guys, but he continues to underwhelm. He got behind 1-0 in the first on Wednesday night after a leadoff triple from Span, walked three straight batters in the third, including Doumit with the bases loaded, and gave up two more runs after the Royals handed him a 6-3 lead in the fifth.
"He hasn't won a game in his last seven starts and I wanted to get him over that hump," manager Ned Yost said. "He was working hard out there, maybe a little too hard. He was trying with everything that he had to get over that hump, too. I was bound and determined to give him every opportunity to do it."
Hochevar (8-13) won for the first time since July 31, but he gave up five runs on six hits with four walks and four strikeouts in five innings. Tim Collins pitched two innings before Kevin Herrera and Francisley Bueno finished the game.
"Of course that wears on you," Hochevar said of his skid. "Regardless of that, I'm going to go out and fight for every pitch, I'm going to go out and compete to the best of my ability. Tonight, our offense picked me up."
P.J. Walters (2-4) gave up six runs on seven hits in four innings and Twins left fielder Ryan Doumit was charged with three errors in the eighth to help the Royals put the game out of reach.
Joe Mauer missed his second straight game because of back spasms for the Twins.
Doumit, who has primarily served as the backup catcher to Mauer, has been working his way into left field more often recently to try to keep his bat in the lineup. The acclimation turned ugly in the eighth when he dropped a fly ball from Johnny Giavotella after a long run to the gap, then booted a hard-hit single by Alcides Escobar that allowed a run to score. Doumit's throw also allowed two runners to advance, giving him a third error in the inning.
It was the second time this season, and fourth since 2010, that a player has committed three errors in one inning, according to STATS LLC. Oakland first baseman Brandon Moss did it in the sixth against San Francisco on June 23.
"It's part of the learning curve," Doumit said. "It's part of all that. It's embarrassing, but I'm going to learn from it and go out and get `em tomorrow."
NOTES: Perez has a 16-game hitting streak, tied with A.J. Pierzynski for the longest by a catcher this season. ... Carroll has a career-high 10-game hitting streak. ... Twins RHP Cole De Vries will have an MRI exam on his sore ribs Thursday. His scheduled start has been tentatively pushed back from Friday to Sunday, pending the outcome of the test. ... The temperature at first pitch Tuesday night was 93 degrees. A day later, it was 58. ... RHP Liam Hendriks (0-7, 6.20 ERA) will pitch the series finale for the Twins against RHP Luis Mendoza (7-9, 4.63). Hendriks is still looking for his first big league win. He carries an 0-9 career record into the start. Mendoza served up three homers to the White Sox in his last start.