Perez’s RBI single lifts Royals to 4-3 win over Mariners

So, do the Royals have your attention yet?

Salvy Perez’s two-out RBI single in the eighth inning Tuesday night produced the winning run in a 4-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners at Kauffman Stadium.

That was after the Royals blew a 3-0 lead.

And after Luke Hochevar held a 3-3 tie for Tim Collins in the Seattle eighth inning by stranding runners at second and third with one out.

And after Billy Butler’s double-play grounder in the eighth erased Eric Hosmer, who opened the inning with a walk.

So, no, it wasn’t pretty. It was, rather, the sort of game the Royals often lost in previous seasons. But when Greg Holland closed it out, the Royals were ensured of being no worse than 41/2 games out in the wild-card chase.

“Every night is big for us,” Hochevar said. “There’s something on the line. There’s an opportunity to get to postseason. In my time here, there’s never been that opportunity.”

Longer than that, of course. It’s been 28 years since this city saw postseason ball. The math this season, with 24 games remaining, remains daunting. But the Royals are willing to let you dream along with them.

“It’s absolutely different (this year),” third baseman Mike Moustakas said. “We’re right in the midst of this thing. People have kind of kept us on the back burner, and that’s kind of how we like it.

“We can just sneak up on everybody.”

Moustakas started the winning rally with a two-out double against Yoervis Medina, 4-4, after Butler had grounded into that double play. Moustakas drove a ball into center for what appeared ticketed for a single.

Until Abraham Almonte chose to make a diving attempt at a catch.

“I thought he was going to play it in front,” Moustakas said. “Keep it to a single. He tried to make a play on it, and it scooted away from him. I knew I had to get in scoring position.”

Manager Ned Yost had Pedro Ciriaco, just promoted from Class AAA Omaha, ready to pinch-run if Moustakas reached first.

“As soon as (Moustakas) got the hit,” Yost said, “I was thinking it was going to be a single. He turned on the afterburners and ran great to second. That changed my mind right there.

Moustakas remained in the game — and came around when Perez drove a single to left for his third hit of the game. Moustakas went into a head-first slide at the plate but easily beat the throw from Endy Chavez.

“Oh, yeah,” Perez said, “I knew Moose would score. Endy Chavez played so deep every time. As soon as I hit it, I knew Moose could make home plate.”

That late run rewarded Hochevar, 4-2, with a victory for his clutch relief work. Holland got his 38th save overall; his 31st straight successful conversion.

“Awesome” Perez said. “You guys know we need to win these games.”

This one nearly got away.

The Mariners erased a 3-0 deficit by scoring twice in the sixth and once in the seventh but missed a great opportunity to grab the lead in the eighth inning.

One-time Royals fan favorite Raul Ibanez reached on a one-out single when his little topper to the right side found space between reliever Tim Collins and Butler at first.

After Michael Saunders replaced Ibanez, Justin Smoak yanked a hard grounder to third that tipped off the glove of a diving Moustakas for a double. Saunders went to third with one out.

“I had it,” Moustakas said. “I thought I had it. I was pretty upset with myself that I didn’t catch it. That’s a big play. That’s a big situation. Timmy did what he could to get a ground ball. I just didn’t catch it.”

In came Hochevar, who struck out Mike Zunino before ending the inning when center fielder Jarrod Dyson ran down Chavez’s fly into the right-center gap. Hochevar gave an exultant kick as he walked toward the dugout.

“I’m not a big emotional guy,” Hochevar said, “but sometimes the situation calls for it, and it just happens.”

The Royals, 72-66, built a 3-0 lead for lefty Bruce Chen by scoring single runs in the first, fourth and fifth innings. The first two runs came on homers by Alex Gordon and Perez. Butler had an RBI single in the fifth.

Gordon’s blast was his club-leading 16th of the season, and it established a club record as the 12th career homer while leading off the first inning. David DeJesus and Willie Wilson each had 11.

Perez’s homer was a laser into the Royals’ bullpen beyond the left-field wall. The first three runs came against Seattle starter Erasmo Ramirez, who pitched in the seventh inning.

Chen yielded a two-run homer in the sixth to Kyle Seager but handed a 3-2 lead to Kelvin Herrera to start the seventh inning.

Herrera yielded a one-out infield single to Almonte, who went to third when pinch-hitter Kendrys Morales pulled a single to right.

After Nick Franklin replaced Morales as a pinch runner, the Royals summoned Collins to face Brad Miller in a left-on-left matchup.

Miller produced the tying run with a soft grounder to second before Collins ended the inning by striking out Franklin Gutierrez. So Chen got a no-decision.

The Mariners let Ramirez get the first out in the seventh before summoning Charlie Furbush. That ensured Ramirez would also get a no-decision.

Furbush departed after Hosmer’s walk in the eighth. Medina got Butler to ground into a double play before the Royals struck for their game-winner.

“All of the credit goes to Hoch,” Moustakas said. “He came in, in a huge situation with runners at second and third, and did exactly what we needed him to do. That saved the game for us.”

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