KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Cal Raleigh homered and drove in three runs as the Seattle Mariners rallied for a 6-5 win over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday night.
The Mariners have won two of three after dropping five of six as they added to their lead over the Baltimore Orioles for the third and final wild-card spot, moving four games ahead with 11 to play as the Orioles fell to Houston Saturday. Seattle also closed to a half-game behind Tampa Bay, which lost to Toronto.
“A nice win,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “We needed it. A heck of a ballgame. We left a lot of guys on base tonight. We weren’t able to capitalize until late when Cal got the big hit.”
“(The win) was very important,” Raleigh said. “Obviously we haven’t been doing the best lately. For us to gut it out and get a win tonight was huge. A lot of guys were saying that’s what good teams do and that’s what playoff teams do. That’s where we want to be.”
With one out in the ninth, Jarred Kelenic and Jesse Winker singled ahead of Raleigh’s tiebreaking RBI double off Brad Keller (6-14). Raleigh had tied the score 5-5 as a pinch-hitter with his 25th homer, a two-run shot to start the sixth inning.
“I’m always looking for a fastball,” Raleigh said. “Something I can put a good swing on. I took advantage; he left it up a little bit.”
“Cal’s in a zone,” Servais said. “That’s where he’s at right now. When athletes get in that point, everything really slows down and that’s what I see with Cal Raleigh’s at-bats right now. He’s really able to slow it down right now and he’s really in control. He’s on a great run right now.”
Raleigh has homered in consecutive games for the first time in his career and has six home runs and 14 RBI in 16 September games.
Paul Sewald (5-4) earned the victory with two scoreless innings and Andres Munoz worked the ninth for his fourth save.
The loss ended the Royals’ season-best four-game win streak.
Both teams had multiple baserunners in each of the first four innings, trading scores as the Royals led 5-3.
The starting pitchers struggled from the outset. The Royals’ Kris Bubic, who has not won since July 24, a span of 11 starts, allowed 11 runners before departing with two out in the fifth. Seattle’s Logan Gilbert had not allowed more than three runs in his past seven starts, dating to Aug. 14, before giving up five runs and seven hits over five innings.
“Just leaving pitches in the middle and not getting in the counts I wanted to,” Gilbert said. “Credit to them; they took advantage of a lot of bad pitches, mistakes on my part and constantly had runners on. It was a tough one.”
Ty France had three hits and reached safely four times for the Mariners.
“Big hits all around tonight,” Servais said. “Ty France had a big night. Winker, two really good at-bats. But none bigger than what Cal Raleigh did off the bench.”
Salvador Perez extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a double in the first inning for Kansas City. Vinnie Pasquantino followed with his ninth homer for a 2-1 lead.
J.P. Crawford had an RBI single in the second to tie for the Mariners before the Royals regained the lead in the bottom of the inning on the first of Drew Waters’ three hits, an RBI triple. Nate Eaton’s sacrifice fly in the third put Kansas City up 4-2.
“All night I was just trying to compete and help the team win a baseball game,” Waters said. “So it was a good night for me, but obviously baseball’s not an individual game, it’s a team game, so a tough loss.”
France’s RBI single in the fourth pulled Seattle within one before Bobby Witt Jr.’s run-scoring hit put the Royals back up by two in the bottom of the inning.
After recently signing a five-year contract extension, Mariners RHP Luis Castillo (7-6, 2.85 ERA) faces Royals RHP Max Castillo (0-1, 2.97).
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