Rangers Strike Out in Kansas City

Luke Hochevar struck out a career-high 13 in seven innings and closer Joakim Soria earned a rare six-out save, helping the Kansas City Royals end a 10-game losing streak with a 6-3 win over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night.

Hochevar (6-3) had the second-most strikeouts in team history and was particularly effective against Texas' big three, striking out Josh Hamilton, Andruw Jones and Hank Blalock a combined nine times.

Billy Butler hit a two-run homer and Soria took the pressure off Kansas City's beleaguered bullpen with his third career six-out save, ending Texas' five-game winning streak.

The Rangers seemed to finally turn the corner in their weeklong battle with the flu, but they couldn't overcome Derek Holland's second straight shaky outing.

Hochevar got off to a rocky start, with Michael Young hitting a solo homer two pitches after David DeJesus snared Ian Kinsler's game-opening drive against the wall in left.

After that, Hochevar had the Rangers waving at pitches well out of the strike zone and matched his career high of nine strikeouts -- set in his previous start -- by the fifth. But the right-hander also had a couple of wild pitches in the dirt; one that scored Kinsler from third in the third inning, another that helped set up Nelson Cruz's RBI single in the fourth.

Hochevar struck out five more after that and left after allowing three runs -- two earned -- on five hits. He fell one short of Mark Gubicza's team strikeout record and became the first Royals pitcher to have 13 strikeouts with no walks.

The Royals got a run on John Buck's single in the fourth and appeared to get a spark when manager Trey Hillman was ejected at the end of the inning for arguing a close play at first.

Ryan Freel and DeJesus opened the fifth with consecutive doubles off Holland (3-6) for one run, then Butler lifted a two-run homer to right to put the Royals up 4-3. Alberto Callaspo followed with a single to chase Holland, who allowed four runs and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings after being knocked around for three runs in four innings his last start.

The Royals kept it going against Jason Jennings in the seventh, going up 6-3 on Mark Teahen's sacrifice fly and Miguel Olivo's RBI double.

Kansas City's bullpen had given up 24 runs in its previous 21 innings -- 13 in the eighth during the seven-game homestand -- so Hillman didn't take any chances, bringing in Soria to start the eighth. The right-hander allowed a two-out double to Marlon Byrd in the ninth and struck out three for his 15th save in 17 chances.

NOTES: Rangers closer Frank Francisco (pneumonia) has been running and throwing at the Ballpark in Arlington, but is still probably a couple of days from coming off the disabled list. ... Olivo is 0 for 12 with the bases loaded this season after flying out in the first.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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