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KC@CLE: Butler blasts two homers, records three RBIs

CLEVELAND -- It's over.

Two weeks of mostly narrow defeats resulting from stranded runners, hard-hit outs and misfortune are out the window. Evidence from the Royals' 12-game losing streak remains visible in the club's won-loss record (4-14), but Wednesday's 8-2 victory against the Indians gave Kansas City the sense of relief it has been searching for.

"It does us no good," said Royals starter Luke Hochevar, "to sit there and think about, 'If we didn't lose this game,' or, 'If this streak didn't happen.' We have to focus on what's in front of us and focus on the things that we need to do to be successful. I think that's going to be our next step: putting it behind us."

The Royals released their pent-up frustration via four home runs, two courtesy of designated hitter Billy Butler. The onslaught of power backed a strong effort from Hochevar, who earned payback against an Indians team that has routinely roughed him up.

"He kept us in check the whole game," said Indians manager Manny Acta. "We couldn't do anything against him when he was out there."

In his previous outing against Cleveland on April 13, Hochevar surrendered seven runs in the first inning, instantly eliminating the buzz of Opening Day at Kauffman Stadium. He departed after four shaky frames when Tribe catcher Carlos Santana lined a pitch off his ankle.

This time, Hochevar bested an Indians lineup missing right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, who has 15 hits and 12 RBIs in 25 career at-bats against the right-hander. Choo is day to day with a tight left hamstring. Hochevar limited the remaining Tribe hitters to just four hits in 6 1/3 innings. Before Wednesday's win, Hochevar was 4-8 with a 5.81 ERA in 12 career outings against Cleveland.

"That was a huge start by Hoch to be able to get us into the seventh inning with the lead against a club that whacked him around last time he faced them," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "That was a pretty darn good effort tonight."

It didn't hurt that his offense handed him an early lead. Butler sliced a two-run homer to right field in the first inning and first baseman Eric Hosmer launched a two-run shot over the wall in left-center in the fifth to produce a 4-0 advantage.

"We got breathing room in the first inning, which was key, and then another big two-run homer," Yost said. "That really gave us a chance to relax a little bit."

The Indians clawed back, closing to within 4-2 with runs in the sixth and seventh innings. However, left fielder Alex Gordon provided his club extra comfort with a three-run homer to center in the ninth. The next batter, Butler, followed with his second long ball of the game.

It remains to be seen whether the Royals can use Wednesday's victory as a springboard to string together a streak that rivals, in length, the one they just vanquished.

During the 12-game skid, tied for the third-longest in franchise history, the club struggled mightily with runners in scoring position. Royals hitters went 2-for-9 in such situations on Wednesday. That stat, however, holds less merit when a team knocks four round-trippers.

Kansas City received plenty of production from the hitters it relies upon the most. Gordon crept closer to the Mendoza Line with three hits. Hosmer reached base four times and raised his average 19 points with a pair of hits.

"This lineup is really starting to heat up," Hosmer said. "Guys are starting to hit well. ... This offense has been hitting, we just haven't gotten many balls falling our way."

All in all, it took a collective effort at the plate and a stellar pitching performance to break the hex. No matter the method employed to reverse the club's fortunes, Yost is relieved to finally move forward with a win.

"I'm just glad we did it," Yost said. "I didn't care how we did it. That's a big monkey to get off our backs, and now we can focus on our day to day. We don't have to worry about the streak anymore.

"It's over."

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