KANSAS CITY, Mo. – It was a bad time for the Cubs to face Kansas City right-hander Luke Hochevar. It was an afternoon start and Hochevar excels in day games.
Hochevar won again under the sun and Alex Gordon extended his hitting streak to 13 games with an RBI double in a four-run first inning as the Royals beat Chicago 6-3 on Sunday.
Hochevar is 9-3 with a 4.43 ERA in 14 day starts the past two seasons, compared to 2-11 with a 5.28 ERA in 21 appearances at night. He picked up just his second victory in his last 10 starts, with both coming in afternoon games.
"I don't pay attention to that stuff," Hochevar said. "Whether it's day or night, I've got to go out and do exactly the same thing. I don't get into that. I've pitched good in day. I've pitched good at night. It doesn't matter."
Hochevar (5-8) departed after 5 2-3 innings. He gave up three runs on seven hits while walking three and striking out five. Louis Coleman struck out D.J. LeMahieu to end the sixth with the bases loaded.
The six runs were the most the Royals have scored since June 14 when they won 7-4 at Oakland. The Royals banged out 13 hits, with every starter having at least one except Mike Moustakas.
"When you get a lead like that, you can't let them inch back in," Hochevar said. "That's what I was trying to do, keep them back in that corner and not let them try to wiggle their way out. It was really big for our offense to come in and pick me up early and put six on the board."
The Royals started with their first six batters reaching in the first. Melky Cabrera led off with a bunt single and stopped at second on Eric Hosmer's single. Billy Butler delivered an RBI single. Gordon's double scored Hosmer before Jeff Francoeur, who had three hits, added a run-scoring single.
After Moustakas walked, Matt Treanor's sacrifice fly scored Gordon.
"We wanted to come out and set the tone like we did," Gordon said. "To get four runs, especially for Hoch, he can go out and relax. He pitched a good game."
Randy Wells (1-2), who gave up just five hits over six innings in his previous start, has not won since April 4. After a shaky start in which manager Mike Quade had Rodrigo Lopez warming up in the bullpen in the first, Wells lasted six-plus innings, allowing six runs and 10 hits.
"It was just bad pitching on my part," Wells said. "I didn't make the adjustment and got us into a 4-0 hole. The four in the first happened so fast. I'm pretty embarrassed about it."
The Cubs trimmed their deficit to 4-3. Geovany Soto, who went 3 for 3 and walked, led off the third with a home run, his second in two games. In a two-run fourth, Reed Johnson doubled with two outs and scored on Blake DeWitt's single. Soto's double scored DeWitt.
The Royals padded their lead with two runs in the fourth. Chris Getz and Eric Hosmer each had an RBI single.
"The tack-on runs to get us back to a three-run lead was big," Royals manager Ned Yost. "The two runs in the fourth were huge. It kind of took the momentum away from them. It was key to have a little breathing room after the score got back to 4-3.The first six guys in our lineup reached base, but to Wells' credit, he settled down and got them deep into the game."
Joakim Soria worked the ninth for his 13th save in 18 opportunities.
Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro singled in the first to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games. He ranks second in the National League with 104 hits.
NOTES: Cubs OF Marlon Byrd, who suffered facial fractures when he was hit by Alfredo Aceves' pitch on May 21 at Boston, will begin a minor league rehab assignment Monday with Triple-A Iowa. Cubs rookie INF Darwin Barney, who went on the disabled list June 15 with a left knee sprain, started his rehab assignment Saturday with Iowa and is expected to be activated soon. Barney started 55 games at second base before the injury and hit .294 in 64 games overall. Royals RHP Kyle Davies, on the disabled list with rotator cuff inflammation, made a rehab start Saturday for Triple-A Omaha. He allowed two unearned runs and four hits while striking out nine and walking none in seven innings against Memphis. He could rejoin the Kansas City rotation by next weekend.