KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Seattle has struggled to win on the road over the last month, losing 10 straight capped by a ninth-inning meltdown in the Mariners’ series-opener against the Kansas City Royals.
Some strong pitching and a bit of fortune helped them break their long road skid Friday night.
PHOTOS OF FRIDAY’S WIN
Hisashi Iwakuma pitched into the seventh inning, Seattle scored the go-ahead runs on Yordano Ventura’s wild pitch and the Mariners held on to beat the World Series champions 3-1 to even the four-game set.
Iwakuma (9-6) allowed one run, five hits and three walks over 6 2/3 innings, striking out six. He kept the Royals off balance with his usual herky-jerky delivery, the only run he allowed coming on Cheslor Cuthbert’s base hit in the fourth inning.
“Overall I was able to make good pitches, location-wise, and execute when I needed to, change speeds, go back and forth,” Iwakuma said through an interpreter. “Especially with the breaking ball I was able to go from strike to ball and they were chasing those pitches and it made it very helpful from my end.”
Steve Cishek, who blew the save the previous night, allowed Salvador Perez’s homer in the ninth before finishing off the inning. It was his 21st save of the season.
“Yesterday was tough. I felt really good yesterday. It’s just baseball,” he said. “I wanted a chance to go back out there and, if I had the chance, give the team the win to make up for it. It got a little sketchy there. I didn’t think he hit that that well, but, you know, I was able to finish it off.”
Ventura (6-6) was nearly as stingy as Iwakuma, giving up only a sacrifice fly to Ketel Marte in the fifth, before things unraveled for him after Seth Smith’s single and Robinson Cano’s double in the sixth.
Nelson Cruz stepped to the plate and nearly gave Seattle a three-run homer, sending a pitch soaring down the right-field line. First base umpire CB Bucknor initially signaled home run, then signaled foul ball, then decided that he wasn’t quite sure and met with the rest of the umpires.
“I lost it. I think that happened to the umpire, too,” Cruz said. “I had no clue.”
After a review, the ball was declared foul and Nelson dug in again.
This time, Ventura’s pitch got past Perez and bounded away, allowing Smith to score from third base and tie the game 1-all. Perez threw the ball away trying to get him out at the plate, allowing Cano to also score — the star catcher was given an error on the play.
“I was pitching good up to that point, I got two quick outs in that inning,” Ventura said. “I lost concentration and got a little bit behind the count, gave up a couple of hits and then came that play.”
The Mariners used three relievers to get the game to Cishek, who bounced back from Perez’s home run to retire Paulo Orlando and Cuthbert and help snap Seattle’s road losing streak.
“That’s the beauty of baseball,” Cishek said. “You play so many games that if you have a bad outing you have an opportunity to get back out there the next night.”
HOME SWEET HOME
Royals manager Ned Yost has given up trying to explain his club’s bizarre home-road split — they began the day 28-11 at Kauffman Stadium, best in the majors, but are just 16-30 away from the spacious ballpark. They average five runs at home and just over three on the road. “It’s puzzling,” Yost said, “but there’s not anything you can point to other than we’re just not producing.”
Felix Hernandez will return July 20 against the White Sox. He is slated for a rehab start with Class-A Everett on Sunday. When asked what directions he would give Hernandez upon his return, manager Scott Servais replied: “Go pitch. Have fun.” Hernandez went on the DL on June 1 with a right calf strain.
Royals RHP Edinson Volquez tries to continue his dominance of Seattle when the teams continue their four-game set Saturday. Volquez is 4-0 with a 2.38 ERA in six career starts against the Mariners. He’ll face Mariners LHP Wade Miley, who is 0-2 since his return from a left shoulder injury. Miley is 4-1 with a 2.91 ERA against the Royals, throwing a shutout against them on April 30.
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