Guthrie absorbs major league-leading 15th loss

Whenever Jeremy Guthrie takes the mound, the Baltimore batters seem to take the day off.

That held true again Wednesday night when the Orioles managed just four hits in a 6-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals.

Guthrie is receiving just 3.3 runs per game, the sixth-lowest support in the American League. In his past 15 starts, the Orioles have scored 47 runs when he was in the game.

"We didn't mount much offense," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "That was the story of the game."

Luke Hochevar pitched neatly into the eighth inning, Billy Butler homered and drove in four runs as the Orioles lost for the fourth time in five games.

Hochevar allowed one earned run and four hits in 7 1-3 innings. He struck out seven, walked one and retired 16 straight batters during one stretch.

"Hochevar really picked it up from the third inning on," Showalter said. "You'd like to see us mount a little more offense. That seems to happen when Jeremy pitches."

Guthrie (5-15) yielded six runs on eight hits in seven innings. He leads the majors in losses.

"They were able to string together a couple of hits and then they got a big home run in the seventh," Guthrie said. "I felt the same as last time (when he beat the Yankees 4-2 on Friday). I just didn't get the same results. The homer was the most damaging in the seventh but I made more mistakes than that.

"Their guy threw the ball tremendous. They got the momentum and Luke ran with it and continued to throw strikes."

Hochevar gave up a run in the first when Adam Jones doubled with two outs and scored on Vladimir Guerrero's single, but did not allow another hit until the eighth.

"Hochevar was throwing the fastball to both sides of the plate," Showalter said. "He was using his cutter, fastball, curve on both sides of the plate. We've seen him before and it's been a process. Little by little he's starting to pitch better. Give him credit, but we're capable of better."

Butler had a sacrifice fly in the first inning and hit a three-run homer in the seventh. His 13th homer came on a 3-0 pitch after Manny Pina doubled for his first big league hit and Alex Gordon singled.

Alcides Escobar's triple in the second scored Yamico Navarro and Chris Getz, putting the Royals up 3-1. Escobar and Gordon each contributed three hits.

The Orioles got unearned run in the third when Hochevar committed a throwing error on a pickoff attempt, allowing Robert Andino to advance to third. He scored on J.J. Hardy's sacrifice fly.

After Matt Wieters singled and Pie doubled in the eighth, Greg Holland replaced Hochevar. Holland hit Andino to load the bases with one out, but struck out Hardy and retired Nick Markakis on a ground out to end the inning.

Holland picked up his first career save in his second opportunity.

NOTES: Royals manager Ned Yost said struggling rookie 3B Mike Moustakas would not be in the lineup Wednesday or Thursday as he worked with hitting coach Kevin Seitzer on his stroke. Moustakas is hitting .194 with one home run in 41 games. "It's mechanical more than anything else," Yost said. "But he's pressing a little bit at the plate, trying to get results, which makes it worse." Pina, who was called up Sunday, made his big league debut and went 2 for 4. ... The Orioles optioned veteran LHP Mark Hendrickson, who was 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA in seven relief appearances, to Triple-A Norfolk. The move opened up a roster spot for LHP Jo-Jo Reyes, who joined the club after being claimed off waivers Monday from Toronto. The Orioles agreed to terms with RHP Willie Eyre pending a physical. Eyre would be assigned to Norfolk. Eyre, 33, is 5-6 with a 5.14 ERA in 92 big league games. ... Rookie LHP Zach Britton, who starts Thursday for the Orioles, has struggled mightily in past two starts, losses to the Red Sox and Yankees. In those two starts, he has allowed 13 runs on 13 hits and three walks in one inning. He got just two outs July 8 at Boston and retired only one Yankee Saturday. Britton has recorded one win in his past 13 starts. ... LHP Jeff Francis starts the series finale for the Royals. Francis is coming off his best start of the season, holding the Indians to four hits in eight scoreless innings Friday.