KANSAS CITY -- A road journey that saw everything from eagles to snow and frigid temperatures ended on a sunny note for the Mariners on Wednesday, with Kyle Seager supplying the happy finish with a two-run homer in the eighth inning to lift Seattle to a 4-2 victory over the
KANSAS CITY -- A road journey that saw everything from eagles to snow and frigid temperatures ended on a sunny note for the Mariners on Wednesday, with Kyle Seager supplying the happy finish with a two-run homer in the eighth inning to lift Seattle to a 4-2 victory over the Royals.
Seager's game-winning blow, along with a strong six-inning, 10-strikeout start by James Paxton, had the Mariners smiling as they packed their bags for the return home after going 4-3 in San Francisco, Minnesota and Kansas City to put their record at 6-4.
"Long road trip, good road trip, cold road trip," said manager Scott Servais. "We'll have a happy flight home."
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The Mariners won a series at Kauffman Stadium for the first time since 2014 and continued surviving even with four position starters -- Nelson Cruz, Mike Zunino, Ben Gamel and Ryon Healy -- on the disabled list.
"I love the way we're competing," Seager said. "I'm sure skip would like to have a few of those guys back. But the way we're competing and getting the job done, we've found ways to win and that's what you have to do. Because when you bring those guys back, they account for some wins on their own. It's nice when we can win without them."
They won Wednesday because Seager drove a 1-1 curve from reliever Justin Grimm just over the fence in right field for his second homer of the season. The 30-year-old has struggled out of the gate offensively and was hitting just .171 coming into the day, but went 2-for-3 with three RBIs, including a bases-loaded sacrifice fly off Danny Duffy in the first that got knocked down by the 20-mph winds.
"He got in on me just enough on that first one," said Seager. "I still thought it was going to go a little further than it did. I don't even know if it got to the warning track. I was starting to doubt myself pretty good there. But I was happy to get the run in. On the homer, when I hit it I thought I got it, but when he started going back there I was pretty worried he was going to catch it."
Dealing with a little wind seemed relatively minor for a Mariners group that survived temperatures in the mid-20s in Minnesota, where one game was postponed. The first-pitch temperature Wednesday was 70 degrees and Paxton -- who had an eagle land on his shoulder in a pregame ceremony in Minnesota in his last start -- heated up his game as well.
The big lefty didn't get the win as he departed in a 2-2 tie, but tied his career best with the 10 strikeouts and issued just one walk and six hits.
"The ball was just exploding and that's what we're used to seeing from Pax," Servais said. "It's taken him a while sometimes, the first or second inning to feel his way through it. But it really started coming together here, especially today in the third or fourth."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Paxton with the 10K: Paxton's 10th strikeout was a big one as he stranded runners on first and third to keep the score tied at 2 in the sixth by setting down Paulo Orlando on three straight cutters. The Royals threatened with a single to right by Cheslor Cuthbert and then a two-out infield base hit by Jorge Soler, with Cuthbert moving to third when shortstop Jean Segura's wide throw to first got past Daniel Vogelbach. After a visit from pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr., Paxton took care of business against Orlando, who had tied the game in the fourth with a two-run double.
"I was trying to bring my best stuff," Paxton said. "When you've got guys on like that, you have to bring your 'A' game and that's what I tried to do. Mel said, 'I want your best stuff right here. Empty the tank, I want everything you've got.' So that's what I did."
Nicasio wiggles out of trouble: Veteran reliever Juan Nicasio also pulled off a nice escape act in the eighth to preserve the 4-2 lead. Nicasio had runners on first and third after a walk and single to lead off the frame, but he froze Cuthbert with a 94-mph fastball on the corner for a big strikeout, got lefty Lucas Duda to pop out to third and finished it off with a fielder's-choice grounder by Soler.
"Juan is interesting," Servais said. "He's kept me on the edge of my seat. He's done it a couple times on this trip, he kind of gets into trouble and then he really locks in and makes pitches. The matchups there weren't ideal, falling behind Duda, but he made a great pitch and got the popup and then got through the inning."
"The top of the lineup has been outstanding this entire trip and really driving the train here offensively for us. The pitching, bullpen guys have done a nice job. I like where the club is at. We still aren't at full strength yet, but we're in a good spot. Kind of under the radar and we're OK with that." -- Servais, on going 4-3 on road trip
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Dee Gordon became just the second player to start their Mariners career with a 10-game hitting streak, joining Endy Chavez (2009). Gordon's streak is the longest by a Mariners player since Joey Cora's 16-game streak in 1998. Gordon now has a 16-game streak of his own dating back to last season with the Marlins and has batted .353 with 14 runs and nine stolen bases during that stretch.
Mariners:Mike Leake gets a seven-game homestand underway Friday in a 7:10 p.m. PT start against the A's. The 30-year-old has been Seattle's most consistent starter in the early going with wins over the Indians and Twins, including a two-run outing over five innings in 26-degree weather in Minneapolis last weekend. Leake is 5-1 with a 2.66 ERA in seven starts since being acquired from the Cardinals on Aug. 30.
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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB