DAVE SKRETTA, AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Seattle Mariners haven’t had much of a problem getting runners into scoring position.
Getting them home has been a disaster.
The Mariners had nine more opportunities with runners on second and third Tuesday night against Kansas City and came up empty on each of them. That left an opening for Salvador Perez, who drove in the go-ahead run for the Royals in the eighth inning for a 4-3 victory over Seattle.
“We were able to square some balls up, put a little pressure on them. We got some hits tonight,” said Seager, who hit a two-run homer to help the Mariners rally from a three-run hole. “It’s just kind of the same thing. They were able to make some good pitches and get out of a couple of jams.”
The Mariners are 1 for 20 with runners in scoring position the first two games of the series.
“We’ve been playing tight ball games and not scoring a great deal of runs,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “It’s not because we don’t have opportunities. We have had some opportunities. We just haven’t taken advantage of them.”
There was no more glaring example of that than the eighth inning Tuesday night.
The Mariners put runners on second and third with one out when Mike Zunino stepped to the plate to face Royals reliever Luke Hochevar (4-2). Zunino promptly struck out, and then Endy Chavez hit a fly ball to center that allowed Kansas City to escape the jam.
“He came in a huge situation for us and did exactly what he needed to do,” said the Royals’ Mike Moustakas, who scored the go-ahead run. “That guy saved the game for us.”
Billy Butler had just grounded into a double play against Seattle reliever Yoervis Medina (4-4) when Moustakas legged out a double to center in the eighth. Perez followed with a single to left, and Moustakas had just enough time for a headfirst slide ahead of Chavez’s throw to home.
Greg Holland pitched a perfect ninth for his 31st straight save and 38th on the year.
Perez also homered and finished with three hits, and Alex Gordon added a homer for the Royals, who have won three straight and eight of their last 10 to climb back into playoff contention.
The Royals (72-66), who began the day 4½ games back in the AL wild-card race, have already matched their win total from last season. They haven’t had more than 72 wins since the 2008 season.
“That’s all nice, but we have a long way to go,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “There’s no sitting back and patting your back at 72 wins right now. We want to continue pushing, continue playing with confidence the way we are right now, keep winning a bunch more games.”
The Royals took the lead on the first pitch of the game, which Gordon sent sailing over the outfield wall for the 12th leadoff homer of his career. The shot broke a tie with David DeJesus and Willie Wilson for the most leadoff home runs in franchise history.
Perez made it 2-0 with his solo shot in the fourth inning, and the Royals manufactured another run in the fifth when Billy Butler hit an RBI grounder through the left side.
That was all Seattle starter Erasmo Ramirez allowed in 6 1-3 innings. After getting recalled from Triple-A Tacoma, Ramirez scattered seven hits and three walks while striking out three.
After Seager’s two-run homer in the sixth, Seattle tied the game in the seventh. Kelvin Herrera gave up a pair of singles, and Brad Miller’s groundout off relief pitcher Tim Collins knotted it up.
Then Hochevar’s great escape — and another missed opportunity for Seattle.
“If you keep getting guys on base, you’re going to eventually going to get some hits there,” Seager said. “You get pitched a little differently with runners in scoring position. If we keep getting guys in scoring position, we’ll break through and score some runs.”
Notes: The Mariners added LHP James Paxton, RHP Chance Ruffin, RHP Hector Noesi and INF Carlos Triunfel from Triple-A Tacoma before the game. They also added Triple-A hitting coach Howard Johnson to the staff. … The Royals added RHPs Wade Davis and Louis Coleman from Class-A Wilmington, and LHP Donnie Joseph and INFs Johnny Giavotella, Pedro Ciriaco and Carlos Pena from Triple-A Omaha before the game. … RHP Taijuan Walker starts for the Mariners on Wednesday. RHP Ervin Santana goes for KC.
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