Kansas City took a 9-7 lead after scoring four runs in the seventh, highlighted by Johnny Giavotella's three-run blast over the left-field wall.
Steven Bisig/Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
SEATTLE — Johnny Giavotella took advantage of a rattled Seattle reliever to lift the Kansas City Royals.
His three-run homer in the seventh inning helped the Royals beat the Mariners 7-5 on Sunday.
The Royals’ seventh began with a double by Eric Hosmer. Reliever Danny Farquhar then struck out Billy Butler and appeared to strike out Danny Valencia on a 2-2 curveball. But home plate umpire Marcus Pattillo called it a ball, causing Farquhar to throw up his arms in disgust.
"I’m pretty sure umpires don’t like that," Valencia said.
Farquhar certainly was miffed and it seemed to have an impact on the rest of his inning. He would go on to walk Valencia and Alex Gordon, loading the bases. Lorenzo Cain tied the game with a sacrifice fly to center. Then Giavotella, promoted from Triple-A Omaha on Thursday, hit Farquhar’s first pitch for his first home run.
"Sometimes you want pitches and they are not called," Farquhar said. "You can’t let that affect you. I want everything called a strike, so that is nothing different for me."
Valencia added, "It’s part of the game. It’s going to happen. No one’s perfect out there. Fortunately, it was in my favor."
Alcides Escobar had given the Royals the early lead with a second-inning grand slam off starter Roenis Elias.
But the Mariners rallied behind Dustin Ackley’s two homers and Kyle Seager’s two-run shot to take a 7-5 lead by the fifth.
As the Royals began to rally in the seventh, manager Ned Yost, with his bullpen rested and ready, turned to batting coach Pedro Grifol and said, "if tie or take the lead here, we’re pretty set up with (Aaron) Crow, (Wade) Davis and Holly (closer Greg Holland) ready. Then, boom, it happened. And, boom, it worked out."
Crow and Davis held the Mariners to one hit each and Holland came on in the ninth to pick up his ninth save in 10 opportunities.
Louis Coleman (1-0), who worked a scoreless sixth, earned the victory.
The Mariners committed a season-high five errors.
"One thing I don’t do is make excuses for guys," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said, "so the onus is on the players in the locker room today. You got a question about errors, you go talk to them."
McClendon would use Pattillo’s inconsistent strike zone as an excuse.
"I’m not going to argue for that type of stuff," he said. "Listen, we didn’t play a very good game. You can analyze any way you want to. I told the team, ‘We didn’t play very good.’ We kicked ourselves in the ass today. It’s that simple."
Yost, when asked about Farquhar’s borderline pitch, said, "we were upset when we didn’t get a third strike on (Mike) Zunino, too, which ended up costing us two runs. That’s part of the game."
That pitch came in the Mariners three-run, second-inning rally. After Ackley hit his first home run to open the inning, Stephen Romero was hit by a pitch, bring up Zunino.
Starter Jeremy Guthrie believed he had Zunino struck out but it was called a ball. Zunino then singled to right and both runners scored on a double by Brad Miller, ending a 0-for-19 slide.
A pair of errors in the fourth allowed the Royals to build the lead by to 5-3. Giavotella walked and Escobar singled. Catcher Zunino tried to pick Giavotella off second but his throw scooted into center for an error, with the runners advancing. First baseman Justin Smoak then bobbled Nori Aoki’s bouncer, allowing Giavotella to score.
Seager, who missed the previous two games with flu-like symptoms, hit his sixth home run in the fourth followed by Ackley’s second, his first career multiple home-run game. Ackley also had a home run in the sixth inning Saturday, giving him three in three straight at-bats. He has four on the season.
"I’ve been seeing the ball pretty well," Ackley said, "putting good swings on balls and not missing things."
The Mariners added a run in the fifth on Corey Hart’s two-out single, scoring James Jones from second.
NOTES: Mariners RF Michael Saunders, who slipped chasing a flyball in the third inning of Saturday’s game, missed the game with a hyper-extended left knee. "It’s a little sore but nothing that’s going to hinder me from missing significant time," Saunders said. He pinch hit in the eighth and struck out. … Mariners pitchers James Paxton (strained lat muscle) and Taijuan Walker (shoulder impingement) threw bullpen sessions before the game. Paxton is up to 40 pitches and will have another session Wednesday before a decision will be made where he will pitch next. Walker threw 25 pitches and will need at least a couple more sessions before the club considers a rehab assignment.