Salvador Perez sends Royals to 4-3 win over Mariners
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Salvador Perez gave Royals reliever Brooks Pounders his first career win, Mariners starter James Paxton a frustrating no-decision and Kansas City a much-needed confidence boost with one mighty swing.
Perez capped a three-hit night with a double off the wall in the ninth inning Thursday night, scoring Whit Merrifield and Jarrod Dyson and giving the Royals a 4-3 victory over Seattle to open a four-game set.
''How many times have we been through it? I mean, we fight. We keep fighting,'' said Danny Duffy, who kept the Royals in the game with 6 1/3 strong innings. ''You're never out of the game with these boys.''
Paxton kept them out of it for eight innings, using just 78 pitches to get that far. The only damage he allowed came in the eighth when Paulo Orlando delivered a two-out single to get Kansas City within 3-2.
Steve Cishek (2-5) came on to close the game and Merrifield doubled to lead off the ninth. Kendrys Morales was hit by a pitch moments later, Jarrod Dyson came on to run for him, and Eric Hosmer struck out before Perez dug in at the plate and a crowd of 31,425 reached a fevered pitch.
He lined a shot to center to give Pounders (1-0), who pitched an inning of relief, his stunning win.
''It's a great moment in my life,'' the big reliever said. ''To walk away with a win in that game is just unbelievable. It says a lot about the team we have here.''
The victory snapped a four-game skid for Kansas City an extended Seattle's road losing streak to 10.
''I don't know if you can be much more in control of the game to being on the wrong side of things in an inning and a half,'' Mariners manager Scott Servais said. ''Tough game to lose.''
The Mariners built an early 2-0 lead not with a homer - they entered the game tied for second in the majors with 128 of them - but with old-fashioned small ball. Dae-Ho Lee scored from second on Dan Robertson's single in the second inning, and Robertson scored after a sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly in the fifth.
Nelson Cruz added a homer off Joakim Soria in the eighth.
Those three runs seemed insurmountable the way Paxton was cruising along.
He induced inning-ending double plays the first two innings, then another one in the third after back-to-back singles led it off. Ketel Marte then made a nice play ranging out from third base on Alex Gordon's blooper into shallow left field to leave Brett Eibner on third base and end the inning.
The worst throw Paxton made before the eighth wasn't to the mound but to first base, when Kendrys Morales chopped a grounder back to him the previous inning. Paxton's throw slipped and bounced halfway to the bag.
With everything else going for him, it still beat Morales easily for the out.
''They were popping up the cutter, hitting it on the ground. A lot of ground balls,'' Paxton said. ''Guys were making great plays behind me. So that's what happens, you saw guys turn double plays.''
STATS AND STREAKS
Morales was 0 for 3 before getting hit by a pitch in the ninth, allowing him to extend his streak of reaching safely to 21 starts. ... The Mariners lost for the fourth time when leading after eight innings. ... Cruz homered for the seventh time in his last 14 games.
The Royals are sending RHP Chris Young to the bullpen and will start RHP Dillon Gee or LHP Brian Flynn in Sunday's series finale. Young is 2-8 with a 6.90 ERA in 15 appearances, 13 of them starts. He's also given up a league-leading 26 home runs despite pitching many of his games at spacious Kauffman Stadium.
Royals RHP Kris Medlen has been shut down after straining his shoulder during a rehab outing. Medlen was 1-3 with a 7.77 ERA in six starts before going on the disabled list in May with rotator cuff inflammation. ''He is going to be no-throw for a couple weeks,'' Royals manager Ned Yost said.
RHP Yordano Ventura returns for Kansas City on Friday night after spraining his right ankle running the bases in his last start in Philadelphia. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma will oppose him for Seattle.