Morales' homer lifts Mariners over Royals

Alan Eskew, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kendrys Morales had been struggling at the plate, but Aaron Crow gave him a pitch he did not miss.
Morales belted a two-run homer in the ninth as the Seattle Mariners topped the Kansas City Royals 6-4 on Wednesday night.
Morales, who had hit just .148 in his previous 18 games, homered with two out off Crow, the eighth Royals' pitcher of the game. Franklin Gutierrez, who had walked, was along for the ride after Morales' 18th home run.
"You have to open up your zone with two strikes," Morales said through an interpreter. "He tried to throw a pitch away, but he left it over the plate to hit it."
It was Morales' first home run since Aug. 2.
"We really need that from the middle of our lineup," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "I can't say enough about the Gutierrez at-bat prior to that (taking the count full before walking), a great at-bat against a very good pitcher. We had some tough at-bats."
The tough loss damages the Royals' playoffs hopes as they entered the game 4½ back in the wild-card standings.
"I thought the command was OK to Morales," Crow said. "It was just one pitch but that will hurt you."
The Mariners could have made it easier, but went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight runners. They are 4-for-40 with runners in scoring position in the past five games.
"We continue to miss some opportunities," Wedge said. "That's going to be the difference for us as we move forward to next year and onto the future."
Danny Farquhar worked a 1-2-3 ninth to log his 12th save. Left-hander Lucas Luetge worked two flawless innings for the victory.
Taijuan Walker, the Mariners' top pick in the 2010 draft, was pulled after five innings and 79 pitches. He allowed four runs and four hits, all in the fourth innings, to tie the score. Walker, who beat the Astros in his big league debut, had to settle for a no-decision.
"The fourth inning, I kind of got out of my groove, leaving the ball up and getting behind in the count," Walker said. "I feel like I didn't really get hit hard, they just found the holes pretty much."
The Mariners put their first two runners on base in the sixth on a Dustin Ackley infield single and a Mike Moustakas throwing error, but failed to score.
Justin Smoak led off the Seattle eighth with a double off rookie left-hander Donnie Joseph, but that came to naught. After Joseph struck out Ackley, Luke Hochevar came in and struck out Mike Zunino and Nick Franklin.
The Mariners grabbed a 2-0 lead in the third. Zunino led off with a broken-bat single to center and advanced to third on Nick Franklin's double to right.
Brad Miller's sacrifice fly to center scored Franklin, and Miller took third. Franklin Gutierrez bounced a RBI single to right past a drawn in infield to score Franklin.
The Mariners added two more runs in the fourth and chased Royals starter Ervin Santana. Raul Ibanez, who began the inning with a short-hop double off the right-field wall, scored on a Franklin single. Ackley, who had reached on a fielder's choice, scored the other run on a Wade Davis wild pitch.
Davis replaced Santana, who faced 18 batters and gave up seven hits and issued three walks. Santana's 3 1/3 innings was his shortest outing of the season.
"I didn't have my best stuff," Santana said. "I'll get them next time. I didn't pitch the way I've pitched this year. I didn't have my fastball. My location was off after the second inning."
Billy Butler stroked a run-scoring single for the Royals' first run in the fourth inning. Eric Hosmer, who extended his hitting streak to eight games with a single, scored on a Salvador Perez sacrifice fly. Jarrod Dyson's two-out two-run single tied the score at four.
NOTES: OF Lorenzo Cain was activated off the disabled list after missing 25 Royals games with a pulled oblique. "I've been out there tracking fly balls, getting back comfortable out there again," Cain said. "I'm itching to get back. No pain when I swing." ... 2B Chris Getz was not in the Royals' lineup Wednesday as he was being tested for a possible concussion. Getz left after two innings Tuesday with an upset stomach and mild dizziness after diving for a ball. ... Mariners RHP Felix Hernandez still is penciled in for a Sunday start. He left his start Monday in the seventh with cramping in his lower back. ... Franklin, who was in a 2-for-35 slump, was dropped to ninth for the first time in the Mariners' batting order. He responded by going 2-for-4 with a double and a RBI.

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