CLEVELAND -- They've climbed from the AL Central basement and never want to go back.
Down and out most of this season -- and so many more before it -- the Kansas City Royals are suddenly rising.Luke Hochevar pitched his third career complete game, Alberto Callaspo hit a three-run homer and the Royals won for the sixth time in eight games, beating the short-handed and sliding Cleveland Indians 9-3 on Thursday to move out of last place in the AL Central."That's nice," said new manager Ned Yost, who improved to 5-2 since taking over for the fired Trey Hillman. "That's good. My focus is playing good every single day. That stuff takes care of itself. Our goal is to play good fundamental baseball. We've done that this week, without a doubt."The Royals completed a two-game sweep of the Indians thanks to a solid performance from Hochevar (4-2), who gave up four hits and ended a three-game losing streak against Cleveland.The right-hander had little trouble with the light-hitting Indians, who were without the top two batters in their lineup -- Asdrubal Cabrera and Grady Sizemore, both on the disabled list with injuries.Hochevar gave up two first-inning singles and then retired 15 of 16 before Shin-Soo Choo's double in the sixth."After the first, we hit a groove," Hochevar said. "Once you start rolling, you kind of go with it. As the game went on, I felt like my command got a lot better."Callaspo connected for his seventh homer in the third off Mitch Talbot (5-3), and Jose Guillen later added his ninth homer the Royals leap-frogged the Indians in the standings.Jhonny Peralta hit a two-run homer for Cleveland, which dropped its fourth straight.Hochevar's outing didn't begin smoothly. He trailed 1-0 before recording his second out but settled down and coasted to his fourth win -- all on the road -- this season. He walked two, struck out seven and threw 107 pitches."Hoch got into a little bit of trouble in the first and limited the damage," Yost said. "He just took it from there. He was on his game. Everything he had was going for him. He did a nice job keeping the hitters off-balance."Because of the injuries to Cabrera and Sizemore, the Indians had Trevor Crowe leading off and Jason Donald batting second. Both were at Triple-A Columbus less than one week ago. But even before they lost their starting shortstop and center fielder, the Indians were a mess at the plate."It's been a struggle," said first-year manager Manny Acta. "Our numbers don't correlate very well. We're in the top three in strikeouts and dead last in home runs, so we're going to have to go back and revisit our hitting approach. We're not hitting balls out of the ballpark and we're striking out too much. Something has got to give."Callaspo's towering shot to right landed in Kansas City's bullpen and staked Hochevcar to a 6-1 lead over Talbot, who has been one of the few bright spots for Cleveland this season.Following a leadoff single by David DeJesus and Billy Butler's double, Guillen snapped an 0-for-17 slump against Cleveland pitching this season with a broken-bat RBI single to make it 3-1. The switch-hitting Callaspo followed by pulling a 2-0 pitch from Talbot for his seventh homer.Talbot was tagged for six runs and eight hits in six innings. He didn't make any excuses but wishes he had thrown something over than "a fastball over the plate" to Callaspo."I think I could have hit that," Talbot said.The Indians closed to 6-3 in the sixth on Peralta's third homer.But the Royals came back with three in the seventh, helped by Choo's error in right field when he overran Mike Aviles' single for a two-base error. The ball probably never should have gotten out of the infield, but second baseman Luis Valbuena never saw it."He didn't see the ball -- at all," Acta said. "He lost it in the glass back there and the front row. He said if the ball would have 'come at me, it would have hit me in the face.'"
Hochevar's complete game was the first by a Kansas City pitcher in Cleveland since Kevin Appier in 1997. ... Acta said no further treatment has been decided on Sizemore, who has a deep bruise on his left knee. The team has not ruled out the possibility of surgery. ... Kansas City will play 12 of its next 16 at home, starting with a three-game set vs. the Colorado Rockies. ... Indians first baseman Russell Branyan is in a 1-for-22 slump.