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Duffy dedicates win to teen who passed away

Royals lefty throws 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball in return from DL
MLB.com @DougMillerMLB

SEATTLE -- Danny Duffy didn't want to hear that he'd be out six weeks, and maybe eight. He was sure he'd return in a month, even though a right oblique muscle strain is a tricky injury and can often linger.

And even though it took him a little closer to five weeks than the four he'd plotted out, Duffy worked his way back to the mound in front of a sun-splashed July 4 crowd Tuesday, earning a hard-fought win over the Mariners at Safeco Field.

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SEATTLE -- Danny Duffy didn't want to hear that he'd be out six weeks, and maybe eight. He was sure he'd return in a month, even though a right oblique muscle strain is a tricky injury and can often linger.

And even though it took him a little closer to five weeks than the four he'd plotted out, Duffy worked his way back to the mound in front of a sun-splashed July 4 crowd Tuesday, earning a hard-fought win over the Mariners at Safeco Field.

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And he did it with more than a little inspiration.

Duffy had a lot on his mind and in his heart as he twirled 5 2/3 innings of five-hit, two-run ball, striking out four in a 7-3 victory over the Mariners that ensured Kansas City a series win and gave the Royals a chance for a sweep on Wednesday with All-Star Jason Vargas taking the hill.

After the game, he revealed that he had dedicated Tuesday's performance to Noah Scott, a teenager from Duffy's hometown of Lompoc, Calif., who passed away last week after waging a courageous battle against leukemia.

"He fought his butt off, and that's all for his family right there," Duffy said. "He didn't lose the fight. He did it. He battled his butt off. He's a good kid. He was in his teens. He was out there, during the middle of his treatment, he was watching Cabrillo games, my high school. He just loved baseball. A very inspirational kid."

The somber memorial powered Duffy through, as did his own motivation to get back to being a force on the mound for the Royals. The May 28 game in Cleveland when he felt the initial twinge in his side? Long gone, as were his frustrations at not being able to help his team.

His final pitch Tuesday, with two out in the sixth inning, was his 86th, and 58 of those were strikes. He mixed in a fastball that reached 93 mph with his usual slider and changeup and kept Seattle off-balance all afternoon.

"Our goal was to try to get him to 85 pitches and we were just about right on the money with that into the sixth inning," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

"He looked great. He looked just like Danny."

When Duffy went down, the Royals lost that game to the Indians, 10-1, to fall to 21-28, 6 1/2 games out of first place in the American League Central. But the team started playing better, and after Tuesday's win Kansas City stands at 43-40 and only 1 1/2 games behind first-place Cleveland.

"They did a great job of picking me up while I was gone," Duffy said. "This is obviously a team sport. I play only once every fifth day, if that. These boys did their thing. The rotation was phenomenal while I was out and I just want to fall in place wherever I can."

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB

Kansas City Royals, Danny Duffy