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Swept in Seattle: Royals lose 7-6 to Mariners

  • The Kansas City Star
  • Published Sunday, July 29, 2012, at 6:27 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, July 30, 2012, at 10:37 a.m.

— Were losing an art form — and, hey, maybe it is — the Louvre might be clearing a wall for the Royals after Sunday’s crushing 7-6 loss to the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.

“It’s like every day one facet of our game costs us,” designated hitter Billy Butler said. “That’s just the way it’s been, especially in this series. Everyone in here can take some account for reasons we’ve lost these games. We’ve just got to figure it out.”

Sunday’s facet was, largely, a collapse by one of the Royals’ supposed strengths: their bullpen.

The winning run scored on a throwing error by reliever José Mijares, who inherited a 5-5 tie to start the Seattle eighth after the Royals scored three runs in the top of the inning. Kelvin Herrera, Tim Collins and Greg Holland also had disappointing moments.

“We just couldn’t execute pitches,” manager Ned Yost said, “when we needed to.”

This is how it rolls right now with the Royals. They got solid start from rookie left-hander Will Smith, outlasted Seattle ace Felix Hernandez, rallied back to even against the Mariners’ bullpen and …

Still lost.

This loss was particularly notable because it permitted Seattle to complete a four-game sweep … take a moment; wrap your mind around that: a four-game sweep … at Safeco Field.

Now take it another step: The Mariners won seven of eight games between these two last-place teams over the last two weeks. Insert and redact your own expletive.

“I feel bad,” catcher Salvy Perez said. “We’re playing hard, but we’ve got to figure out why we’re not winning.”

So ends a 1-6 trip that began with two losses in three games against the Angels in Anaheim, Calif. The Royals have lost 21 of their last 27 in falling to 41-60 and are now two games deep into the American League Central Division basement.

This latest loss was particularly galling because the Royals:

Got a quality start from Smith: three runs and seven hits in six innings.

Overcame one bullpen hiccup. Herrera and Collins allowed two runs in the seventh that extended Seattle’s lead to 5-2.

Outlasted Hernandez, who yielded just two runs and five hits in seven innings, by rallying for three runs in the eighth against the Seattle bullpen.

Tied the game on a clutch single by Eric Hosmer, a two-run dart through the left side with two outs in the eighth against Oliver Perez.

“These are the types of games,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said, “when you’re glad you’re the home team and get those final at-bats. Ultimately we had some guys step up late.”

Mijares inherited a 5-5 tie to start the Seattle eighth but put the Royals back into a hole after just two batters. Mike Carp led off with a double to left for his third hit of the game. Carp was eight for 15 in the four-game set, which raised his average from .143 to .202.

“Well, we didn’t make very good pitches to him all weekend,” Yost said. “We left balls over the middle of the plate and middle in. He got a lot of hits off us.”

After Munenori Kawasaki replaced Carp as a pinch-runner, Trayvon Robinson dropped a nice bunt up the third-base line. The bunt was so good that Mijares probably should have just held the ball.

Instead, Mijares forced a throw to first that got past second baseman Chris Getz for an error. Kawasaki scored the go-ahead run, and Robinson ended up at second.

That quickly, the Royals were back in the hole.

After Holland replaced Mijares, the Mariners tried for another sacrifice with Brendan Ryan. Holland bobbled the ball, which took away any chance to a play at third, but got Ryan at first.

An intentional walk to Dustin Ackley set up a double-play possibility, but Casper Wells yanked an RBI single through the left side.

That second run proved decisive because the Royals scored once in the ninth against Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen before stranding the tying run at second base when Lorenzo Cain struck out.

Oliver Perez, 1-2, got the victory after blowing a save by allowing Hosmer two-run single, which stuck Hernandez with a no-decision. Mijares, 2-2, was the loser. Wilhelmsen held on for his 14th save.

“After we came back and tied it in the eighth,” Butler said, “we needed a shutdown inning in the bottom of the eighth and didn’t get it.”

Smith kept the Royals close through six innings before the bullpen twice let the game get away. The Royals trailed just 3-2 when Herrera replaced Smith to start the Seattle seventh.

Herrera carried a streak of 10 straight scoreless outings into game but immediately surrendered singles to Ryan and Ackley. Herrera turned Wells’ attempted sacrifice bunt into a force at third before exiting.

The Royals called on Collins for a left-on-left matchup against Michael Saunders — and Collins struck out Saunders on three pitches.

But a wild pitch with Jesus Montero at the plate moved the runners to second and third, and prompted an intentional walk that loaded the bases. That set up another left-on-left matchup – against Kyle Seager, who punched a first-pitch fastball into center.

The two-run single made it 5-2.

Hernandez handed that three-run cushion to the Seattle bullpen to start the eighth, but the Royals quickly stirred to life against Brandon League. Singles by Alcides Escobar, Butler and Perez produced one run and brought Oliver Perez into the game.

A wild pitch moved the runners to second and third before Hosmer tied the game with a two-out single through the right side. He went to second on Robinson’s throw home and to third when the throw was wild for an error.

The Royals settled for a tie when Yuniesky Betancourt took a third strike.

“We came back fighting at the end,” Hosmer said, “but we just fell short again. It’s tough. Guys are battling real hard. We’re doing everything we can to get something going. It’s just unfortunate.”

To reach Bob Dutton, call 816-234-4352 or send email to bdutton@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/Royals_Report.

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