Monday, May 12, 2014
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Giavotella's Homer Pushed Royals Past Mariners

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[May 12, 2014]  SEATTLE -- The Kansas City Royals made a call to Triple-A Omaha last week looking for a fill-in at second base while Omar Infante rested his ailing back. On Sunday, call-up Johnny Giavotella proved that he was more than just a quick-fix stop-gap.

The 26-year-old second baseman made his fourth career home run his most memorable to date, hitting a three-run shot in Sunday's seventh inning to help the Royals beat the Seattle Mariners 9-7.

Giavotella hit the first pitch from Seattle reliever Danny Farquhar (1-1) over the left field fence to put the Royals (18-19) ahead for good in Sunday's series finale.

"I was super-excited, super pumped-up," Giavotella said. "I felt like I was walking on clouds running around the bases."

Giavotella's home run capped off a rare power surge for a Kansas City team that scored seven of its nine runs on homers. Shortstop Alcides Escobar hit the first grand slam of his career in the second inning, setting the tables for the Royals' first multi-homer game of May.

They came on a day when Seattle (19-18) hit three home runs -- two of them coming off the red-hot back of leftfielder Dustin Ackley.

Ackley hit solo shots in the third and fourth innings, giving him three consecutive at-bats with homers when adding in the solo homer in Saturday's sixth inning.

"They both felt great," Ackley said of Sunday's home runs, which marked the first multi-homer game of his career. "The one (Saturday) felt great. So I'm just going to try to keep it rolling."

Ackley's two home runs helped the Mariners rally from an early 4-0 deficit that came off Escobar's second-inning grand slam. Seattle third baseman Kyle Seager added a home run as the Mariners pulled out to a 7-5 lead through the sixth inning.

Seattle couldn't overcome five errors, three of which led to a pair of unearned runs in the second and fourth innings. Seager and first baseman Justin Smoak botched ground balls, while catcher Mike Zunino allowed a baserunner to advance on a throwing error in the fourth. Right fielder Cole Gillespie, a defensive replacement who came on in the top of the ninth inning, had two errors on one play when he mishandled a Gordon single and then threw the ball away on the relay to give up two extra bases.

"We didn't play very good," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon, who didn't mince words after the game. "We kicked ourselves in the (tail) today, no question."

The two teams combined for 23 hits, with Ackley and Kansas City left fielder Alex Gordon both going 3-for-4. The Kansas City win earned a split in the four-game series at Safeco Field.

Neither starting pitcher made it past the fifth inning, and Kansas City's Louis Coleman (1-0) earned the win after a scoreless inning of relief. Farquhar (1-1) took the loss after giving up four runs off two hits and two walks in the seventh. Farquhar seemed to unravel after throwing his arms in the air on what he thought should have been a called third strike to Gordon. That ended up being the second of back-to-back walks Farquhar issued before Giavotella took him deep for the costly three-run homer.

"It's tough," Farquhar said. "It happens. But you have to move on. I didn't execute the pitches like I have to."

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Giovatella called hitting the home run "probably the happiest moment of my career so far."

Greg Holland, the sixth Royals pitcher to enter the game, earned his ninth save of the season with a scoreless ninth.

Escobar ended the Royals' home run drought to put Kansas City in front. It marked the first home run by a Kansas City player since Tuesday and only the third this month.

Seattle got back into the game with three runs in the bottom of the third. Ackley opened the frame with a solo shot, then shortstop Brad Miller ended an 0-for-19 slump with a two-run double to pull the Mariners to within 4-3.

The Royals added a run on a Nori Aoki RBI in the top of the fourth before Ackley and the Mariners struck again in the bottom of the inning.

Seager, who missed two consecutive games with flu-like symptoms, hit a two-run home run to tie the score 5-5. Ackley, who also homered in his final at-bat of Saturday's game, followed with another solo shot in the fourth to give the Mariners their first lead, 6-5. In addition to homering in three consecutive at-bats, Ackley turned in the first multi-homer game of his career.

Designated hitter Corey Hart added a two-out RBI single in the fifth inning to extend Seattle's lead to 7-5 and chase Kansas City starter Jeremy Guthrie from the game. Guthrie allowed seven runs off eight hits over 4 2/3 innings. He didn't allow a walk but gave up a season-high three home runs.

Seattle starter Roenis Elias struggled as well, giving up nine hits in five innings. Only three of the five runs he allowed were earned, and Elias had five strikeouts.

NOTES: Mariners 3B Kyle Seager has four homers in Seattle's past three day games at home. ... Royals C Salvador Perez (calf) took Sunday's game off. ... Mariners RF Michael Saunders, who hyperextended his knee in Saturday night's win, was not in the lineup Sunday but came on to pinch-hit in the eighth. He struck out, and he did not play in the field. ... Mariners RHP Taijuan Walker (shoulder) and LHP James Paxton (lat muscle) both threw successful bullpen sessions before Sunday's game.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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