Kevin Millwood (4-8) allowed one earned run over 6.1 innings for his first victory since May 23, defeating the Kansas City Royals 4-3 Saturday at Safeco Field. The Mariners collected their sixth win in seven games over the AL Central bottom feeders and can sweep the series with a win Sunday.
Millwood, staked to a 3-1 lead after Jesus Montero hit his 10th home run of the season, off Bruce Chen, in the third inning, had gone 10 starts, which included four losses and six no-decisions, since beating Texas May 23.
Millwood allowed six hits to the Royals, struck out three, walked one and was aided by two nice defensive plays by shortstop Brendan Ryan.
Normally feeble at Safeco Field, the Mariners scored 14 runs on 29 hits in the first three games of the series. They had seven hits Saturday, including Montero’s homer. Seattle has hit 11 of its 87 home runs this season off Kansas City pitching.
The Royals got to the beleaguered Millwood early, taking a 1-0 lead when Billy Butler singled to right, scoring Alcides Escobar, who had reached on a bunt single.
The Mariners, who have won nine of their past 13 and four of their past five, went ahead 3-1 in the third. Following a Casper Wells single to left, his second hit of the game, Montero homered to left on the first pitch. Kyle Seager followed with a double and came home on Miguel Olivo’s single to right.
The Royals got a run back in the eighth when Alex Gordon doubled and Escobar tripled to center off reliever Brandon League, making it 3-2.
Seattle had a chance to bust the game open in the eighth when it loaded the bases with none out, but managed to come away with just one run on a Mike Carp sacrifice fly that scored pinch-runner Chone Figgins.
Tom Wilhelmsen pitched a shaky ninth for his 13th save. He allowed a run-scoring triple to Lorenzo Cain that made it 4-3, but induced Gordon to ground out to Carp at first for the final out.
NOTES: Casper Wells (2-for-4) and Montero (2-for-3) had Seattle’s only multi-hit games . . . The Mariners went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners stranded . . . Dustin Ackley went 0-for-4, his average dropping to a season-low .224 . . . Mike Carp, who had gone 5-for-8 in his previous two games against the Royals, went 0-for-3 and is batting .180 . . . Former Mariners Randy Johnson and Dan Wilson formally joined the club’s Hall of Fame in a ceremony prior to Saturday’s game against Kansas City. They became the fifth and sixth members enshrined. “To be a part of this great Hall of Fame,” Johnson said, “I’m honored to be part of it along with Dan Wilson.” Johnson’s No. 51 was painted behind the mound, while Wilson’s No. 6 was displayed in back of home plate for Saturday’s game . . . The opposing center fielders, Michael Saunders for Seattle and Lorenzo Cain of Kansas City, were teammates on the Tallahassee Community College baseball team in 2005.