KANSAS CITY -- Lorenzo Cain and Melky Cabrera produced key RBI singles in the seventh inning, and Brandon Moss belted two home runs to help the Royals rally for a 6-4 win over the Mariners on Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals remained 2 1/2 games behind the American League Central-leading Indians. The Mariners fell 2 1/2 games behind the Royals for the second Wild Card spot as they dropped back to .500 at 55-55 with their second straight loss.
With the game tied at 3, Alcides Escobar led off the seventh with a single, and Alex Gordon delivered just his seventh career sacrifice bunt. After an error, Cain and Cabrera followed with opposite-field singles off Mariners rookie reliever Emilio Pagan to give the Royals a 5-3 lead.
"I was trying to go the other way," Cain said. "He threw a fastball the other way, and I got it out there.
"It just feels good to be back home and get off to a good start. That's a good team over there."
Right-hander Trevor Cahill made his first start at Kauffman Stadium for the Royals, and he lasted 4 2/3 innings. He gave up six hits and two runs while walking two and striking out three.
The Mariners got solo home runs from Kyle Seager and Danny Valencia, but they couldn't add on enough to stave off the late Royals' rally.
"We had some chances," manager Scott Servais said. "We kind of needed that big two-out hit earlier in the game to take more of a commanding lead. It felt like momentum was on our side, but you look up at the scoreboard and it was still just 2-0, and they quickly tie it with one swing of the bat. We had chances, but you need that big two-out hit to get us over the hump and stretch it out a little, and we didn't get that tonight."
Mariners right-hander Yovani Gallardo was strong for five innings before weakening in the sixth when he walked the first two hitters. He gave up three hits and three runs, walked three and struck out one in five-plus innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Moss awakens the offense: The Royals scored just two earned runs in their previous 32 innings when Moss stepped to the plate with a runner on first and none out in the fifth with the Mariners leading 2-0. Moss jumped on a 1-1 curveball from Gallardo and crushed a home run to right, his 13th. Statcast™ projected it to travel 427 feet. Moss then drilled his 14th home run into the right-field corner in the eighth.
"I thought something soft was coming up [from Gallardo], either a fastball or a curveball, based on sequencing, on the first homer," Moss said. "He left a curveball up. I put a better swing on it than I normally do on curveballs."
Royals manager Ned Yost has stuck with Moss as his designated hitter through some tough times. Moss is hitting just .210.
"We were still kind of trying to find a way to find some offense," Yost said. "Then boom -- two-run homer. That got us going."
Heredia comes through: Rookie left fielder Guillermo Heredia came through in a big spot in the sixth for the Mariners. Valencia led off with a double into the right-field corner. After former Royal Jarrod Dyson, who had two hits in his return to Kauffman Stadium, sacrificed Valencia to third, Heredia fought off several offspeed pitches from Mike Minor. Heredia then poked a single through a drawn-in infield and the Mariners went back up 3-2.
"It was nice. They're great fans here and I really appreciate them showing me love and letting me know they appreciate everything I did while I was here. I can't say anything bad about them. They cheered me on the whole time I was here and I just want to thank them for sticking with me." -- Dyson, on his reception from Royals fans in his first return to Kauffman Stadium
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Pagan, who took the loss after allowing three runs (two earned) in the seventh and eighth, had given up just one run in his previous 21 1/3 innings in long relief.
There was a crew-chief review on Valencia's solo home run in the fourth inning off Cahill. Replay appeared to show the ball hit the protective railing in front of the foul pole, in which case it would have been a foul ball. But the call stating the ball hit the foul pole itself was ruled to stand, and Yost came out of the dugout to argue the call. He was soon ejected for a second straight night.
"After the inning I asked Melky, and Melky said it hit on the pole," Yost said. "Melky was right there. You never could really tell it hit the pole and shot down, but the umpires absolutely got it right."
Mariners: Left-hander James Paxton (11-3, 2.68 ERA) will start on Friday at 5:15 p.m. PT against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium as he looks to follow up on his AL Pitcher of the Month performance in July, when he went 6-0 with a 1.37 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings.
Royals: Right-hander Jason Hammel (5-8, 4.75) takes the hill on Friday against the Mariners at 7:15 p.m. CT, making his team-leading 22nd start. Hammel gave up three runs and seven hits over seven innings in a 5-3 win over the Red Sox on Sunday.
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