SEATTLE -- Salvador Perez launched a two-run, opposite-field home run off Mariners reliever James Pazos in the 10th inning on Wednesday night at Safeco Field, as the red-hot Royals notched a 9-6 win and their first series sweep of Seattle since 2010.
Perez's 17th homer of the year capped a three-run 10th, and moved the Royals within a half-game of Cleveland for the American League Central lead at 44-40. Kansas City is an AL-best 22-10 since June 1.
"I got up looking for something up and over the plate, and he threw me a pitch and I didn't miss it," said Perez, who will start at catcher for the AL in the MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard on Tuesday.
Royals lefty Jason Vargas couldn't earn his 13th win of the first half, as he gave up six runs on eight hits -- including home runs by Mike Zunino, Jean Segura and Nelson Cruz -- in five innings, exiting with the game tied at 6.
"It was an all-around great team effort in terms of us getting off to a great start early, me giving it up, us battling back and then the bullpen holding us right where we needed to be," Vargas said. "Salvy coming up big late, that's kind of the story of how we've been playing lately. We've been able to come up with the big hit in the big moments, or the big play in the big moment."
Vargas is 12-3 with a 2.62 ERA heading into the All-Star break, as his streak of seven straight winning decisions came to an end. The lefty also missed a chance to move into a tie with Clayton Kershaw for the most wins in the Majors, as he equaled his season high for runs allowed.
Miranda (4.15 ERA) allowed six runs on five hits and two walks over five innings. Tony Zych pitched 2 1/3 innings of relief, as Seattle's bullpen threw four scoreless frames before Pazos took the loss. The Mariners fell to 41-45, losing their seventh straight game at Safeco Field.
"It's a critical point in our season right now," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "It really is. We haven't played well here for the last 10 days or so. We've struggled, and we've got to get it turned around and moving in the right direction heading into the All-Star break. There were some good signs tonight, but we didn't get it done at the end. We needed that ballgame, and just didn't get the big hit when we needed it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Moose on the loose: Mike Moustakas, who leads the 2017 Esurance MLB All-Star Final Vote in the American League, continued his torrid stretch with his sixth homer in the past eight games, a two-run shot in the first off Miranda to give the Royals a 4-0 lead. After Eric Hosmer's two-run double, Moustakas drove an 0-2 slider over the right-center-field wall for his third homer in as many days. It was his 25th home run of the season, the most ever by a Royal before the All-Star break. Moustakas went 3-for-5, extending his hitting streak to nine games.
"It's seriously just trying to come up there with the same gameplan I have all the time, just not try and do too much," Moustakas said. "[I] get a good gameplan in before the game with [hitting coach] Dale [Sveum], and try and stick with it the best that I can. And it's been working." More >
All he does is hit: Mariners leadoff man Segura has picked up nicely since coming off his second stint on the disabled list. The standout shortstop gave the Mariners a 5-4 lead in the second with a two-run blast, a 402-foot shot to straightaway center for his sixth homer of the season. If Segura had 10 more plate appearances, he would qualify as the current AL batting leader at .343. He went 2-for-5 with two runs, and has hit .351 (20-for-57) with a pair of homers, seven RBIs and 10 runs in 13 games since returning from a high ankle sprain.
"Jean had a good game again tonight," Servais said. "He has been consistent. That's what he does. He finds a way to get the barrel on the ball, and gives you a good at-bat almost every time up there."
"I like my chances there. I think I can get him out 9-out-of-9 [times], or 9-out-of-10, but he got me today. I think he was looking for a pitch in one spot, and he got it. It's tough, but he's a good hitter. That's what he does." -- Pazos, on giving up Perez's home run on an 0-1 sinker
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Cruz's solo homer in the third was his first since June 4 for the Mariners. His 23 games without a home run was the third-longest drought of his career, and the longest since a 25-game stretch in 2007. More >
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Mariners unsuccessfully challenged an out call on Cruz at second in the fifth, when he just missed his second homer and tried to stretch a single into a double on a 108-mph line drive off the top of the wall in left field. Cruz, hobbled by a sore knee, was thrown out by Alex Gordon on a close play. After a 2 minute, 21 second review, the call stood.
Royals: The Royals have an off-day on Thursday before starting a three-game series with the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Friday to take them into the All-Star break. Jason Hammel will be on the hill for the 9:10 p.m. CT start, after struggling in his last outing, allowing six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings in a loss to the Twins.
Mariners:Sam Gaviglio (3-3, 3.48 ERA) gets his final start of the first half in Thursday's 7:10 p.m. PT series opener against the A's at Safeco FIeld. Oakland will start a rookie as well, with former Mariners prospect Paul Blackburn -- who was sent to the A's for Danny Valencia last winter -- making his second MLB start .
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