After allowing a run and facing a bases-loaded situation, Hochevar regrouped in the first and helped lead the Royals to a 10-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night. Melky Cabrera had three hits and drove in three runs and Billy Butler homered for the first time in six weeks to pace the offense.
"They load the bases and we got out of it," Butler said. "In other games, we would not have got out of there with limited damage. That's a good job by Hoch minimizing the damage and we came in and put some runs up and used that momentum shift for the rest of the game."
Hochevar (6-8) allowed just one run in the first in what could have been a ruinous inning. He gave up a run on back-to-back doubles by Johnny Damon and Ben Zobrist to open the game and walked Casey Kotchman and Evan Longoria to load the bases with no outs. That prompted a visit to the mound from pitching coach Bob McClure.
Whatever was said appeared to work as Hochevar struck out Matt Joyce. B.J. Upton flied out to right fielder Jeff Francoeur, who threw out Zobrist at the plate for an inning-ending double play. Hochevar retired 11 straight batters after Zobrist's double to pick up his first victory since June 26.
"I found myself in a jam in the first," Hochevar said. "You've got to find a way to get it done and make quality pitches. I walked two guys in that inning, but then I was just bearing down and making pitches. I pop Upton up and Frenchy makes the catch and an outstanding throw. We've been doing that all season."
That was the Royals' 19th outfield assist on a runner out at the plate.
"I kind of hit a groove," Hochevar said after the first. "I felt like I was commanding the ball on both sides of the plate. In the sixth, I fell behind two guys and made two mistakes. That's what happens when you make mistakes when you're behind in the count."
Francoeur went 3 for 5 with an RBI and Eric Hosmer drove in a pair of runs with two hits as every Royals starter had at least one hit and Kansas City finished with 16 overall. The Royals have won three straight, one shy of their season-high longest winning streak.
The Royals scored three runs in the bottom of the first off Rays right-hander Wade Davis (7-7).
"Hoch did a great job on controlling that first inning," Hosmer said. "It could have got ugly. He buried down and made some good pitches. We came out and had a big first inning. That's all Hoch needed until that one inning. The bullpen took care of the rest."
Butler hit his seventh home run in the third inning, his first since June 10 -- a span of 116 at-bats. Butler added an RBI single in the Royals' two-run seventh.
The Royals scored an unearned run in the fifth to hike their lead to 5-1. Francoeur doubled and scored when Moustakas hit a fly to right-center that Upton had in his glove, but right fielder Joyce ran into him and knocked the ball loose for an error.
Longoria and Joyce hit back-to-back home runs in the Rays' three-run sixth, cutting the lead to 5-4, and chasing Hochevar. He allowed four runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings, walking two, hitting a batter and striking out two.
The Royals countered with three runs in the sixth, which included run-producing two-out singles by Cabrera, Francoeur and Hosmer.
"It was horrible," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "There was nothing we did good at all today. We let that one get away. That was not the Rays out there tonight. That was not us. We made too many mistakes.
"We came out good. Johnny and Ben hit doubles and all of a sudden we have the bases loaded and nobody out and we've got a run in, and all we get is one point. We've done that a lot. We have to do better than that. We didn't do anything well tonight. Moving forward that can't be a part of anything we do."
Royals rookie Nate Adcock worked the ninth inning, the first time he has pitched since July 1.
Royals SS Alcides Escobar left with a bruised right shin in the sixth inning. He was hurt when Sam Fuld slid into him to break up a double play in the fifth. ... After the game, the Rays optioned SS Reid Brignac to Triple-A Durham and recalled OF Desmond Jennings, who was hitting .275 with the Bulls. ... Francoeur picked up his 92nd career assist in the first inning. That's the most outfield assists in the majors since 2005, when he made his debut. ... Damon's double was his 503rd, tying him with Hall of Famer Andre Dawson for 50th place on the career list. ... Rays bullpen coach Bobby Ramos was not with the club, but remained in Florida for tests on an ongoing throat problem. "He's visiting with doctors," Maddon said. "He's going to stay there, get well. Getting well is the major concern. He's just not up to speed yet."