The Mariners rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh inning and James Paxton tied the club record for consecutive wins with seven in a 5-2 decision over the Royals.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A must win in August? That seems like a little bit of a stretch considering after Friday night the Mariners still have 51 games remaining in the season.
But in the immediacy of this key four-game series with the Kansas City Royals, the prospect of the Mariners losing a game with James Paxton on the mound would’ve erased any chances of a series win and made even salvaging a series split seem unlikely.
And as the seventh inning began, the Mariners were trending toward defeat, down a run with an offense that seemed out of sorts and was missing cleanup hitter Nelson Cruz, who had been scratched from the lineup just before the game due to neck spasms.
Mariners @ Royals, 4:15 p.m., ROOT Sports
But Seattle scored three runs in the top of the seventh on run-scoring singles from Guillermo Heredia, Jarrod Dyson and Leonys Martin, and tacked on another in the eighth to rally for a 5-2 win.
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The Mariners improved to 56-55 on the season.
Paxton pitched six innings, giving up two runs on four hits with a walk and seven strikeouts to improve 12-3. It was his seventh straight win, tying the club record held by Jamie Moyer and Scott Bankhead.
He cruised through the first four innings, allowing just one base runner — a leadoff walk to Whit Merrifield to start the fourth.
But his early no-hit bid was broken up with one out in the fifth inning on a Mike Moustakas single to right. He would later score on Brandon Moss’ two-out single to left field, tying the game at 1-1.
Paxton lost the lead an inning later. He gave up a double to Merrifield and a single to Lorenzo Cain to put runners on the corners. A passed ball moved Cain into scoring position.
But after getting a ground out from Melky Cabrera and striking out Eric Hosmer, it looked as though Paxton might escape unscathed. But a curveball in the dirt to Salvador Perez bounced off the chest protector of Mike Zunino. The ball skirted far enough from home that Merrifield decided to make a break for the plate. Zunino got to the ball and tossed it to Paxton, who was charging from the mound. As Paxton went to catch the ball and make a…