Luke Hochevar tries to pick up his first victory in eight starts on Wednesday evening when his Kansas City Royals continue a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins.
The top overall pick of the 2006 draft, Hochevar is 0-4 with a 5.74 earned run average since his last victory and 7-13 with a 5.36 ERA in 28 total starts this season.
The righty is coming off a no-decision against the Texas Rangers after yielding four runs over 6 1/3 innings of Thursday's 5-4 loss.
One start earlier, Hochevar was tagged for eight runs on six hits and four walks in a loss to the Twins on Sept. 1. Most of the damage came on home runs as he gave up a three-run shot to Chris Parmelee in the first inning and a grand slam to Joe Mauer in the second.
Hochevar, who turns 29 on Saturday, fell to 4-5 with a 5.57 ERA lifetime against Minnesota.
He could dodge a bullet tonight if Mauer is forced to sit out a second straight game due to back spasms that forced him to be a late scratch on Tuesday. Without their star catcher, the Twins dropped a 9-1 decision to the Royals.
Will Smith hurled seven scoreless innings of seven-hit ball, striking out seven while throwing 68 of his 107 pitches for strikes.
Lorenzo Cain crushed a two-run triple among his three hits and Alcides Escobar also knocked in a pair of runs with a three-bagger for the Royals, who have won three of their last four. Eric Hosmer clubbed a solo shot in the victory.
"They knocked the fire out of the ball. They swung the bats very well," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of the Royals. "They did a lot of things well and we didn't play very well at all."
Ryan Doumit knocked in the lone run of the night for the Twins and Scott Diamond was knocked around for four runs on 10 hits and three walks over six innings as Minnesota's three-game win streak came to an end.
"Diamond has always been tough on us, but to score nine runs, it was nice," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "The four runs in the eighth were huge, that kind of put the game away for us."
Minnesota's P.J. Walter will make his second start since missing almost three months with right shoulder inflammation and will try to make it a better one tonight.
The right-hander, making his first appearance since June 13, yielded six runs on five hits, two homers and three walks in five innings of a 6-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Walters had pitched to a 2.96 ERA through his first four outings of 2012, but has given up 19 runs in 14 1/3 innings over his last four, making him 2-3 with a 6.05 ERA through his eight starts.
"I felt like I proved that I can pitch here," Walters said. "I obviously got hurt and it set me back a little ways, but being able to come back and prove that I'm healthy and finish the year strong and help the team win some games."
The 27-year-old faces the Royals for the first time.
The Twins are 10-6 against the Royals this season.