SEATTLE (AP) – Domingo Santana hit two home runs in a game for the third time this season, Marco Gonzales won his third straight start and the Seattle Mariners avoided an embarrassing series sweep with an 8-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday.
Santana, who had five RBIs, and Daniel Vogelbach hit back-to-back homers in the first inning to give the Mariners a 4-0 lead and they went on to snap Kansas City’s three-game winning streak.
The Mariners had been outscored 15-4 by the Royals in the first two games of a series between last-place teams.
Seattle jumped on starter Brad Keller (3-9) immediately. Mallex Smith doubled to open the bottom of the first and J.P. Crawford walked before Santana hit his first home run of the day to left-center field. Vogelbach followed with his 18th of the season, off the Hit It Here Café in the second deck.
It was the eighth time this year the Mariners, second in the majors in homers, have gone back-to-back.
Seattle showed some of the small-ball potential of its new young lineup in the fourth after Dylan Moore singled to start the inning.
Keller hit Smith with a pitch, then gave up run-scoring singles to Crawford and Santana before Vogelbach’s sacrifice fly made it 7-1.
Keller didn’t return for the fifth after giving up nine hits and throwing 97 pitches.
Santana added a solo home run, his 15th of the season, in the sixth and finished with three hits. The top three batters in the order – Smith, Crawford and Santana – each scored two runs.
Gonzales (8-6) scattered six hits over 6 2/3 innings, striking out five. It was his third straight victory after going 0-6 in his previous seven outings.
An MRI showed nothing out of the ordinary in RHP Felix Hernandez’s injured shoulder, Seattle manager Scott Servais said. The 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner is expected to begin working out again soon.
Servais said Hernandez could pick up a ball in a few days for light tossing. Hernandez left a minor league appearance Friday night after experiencing fatigue in his shoulder and strained lat.
He’ll throw bullpens before making another minor league start.
Royals: SS Adalberto Mondesi was out of the lineup with tightness in his right groin. He’s day to day.
Mariners: RHP Sam Tuivailala threw 30 pitches Tuesday in his first bullpen since taking a step back in his return from Achilles tendon surgery.
The reliever said he didn’t feel any of the muscle tightness in his arm that sidetracked his return last month.
Tuivailala will report to Class A Everett where he will work out of the bullpen for three or more games until he earns a move to Triple-A Tacoma, Servais said.
Royals: RHP Glenn Sparkman (1-3, 4.01 ERA) will face the Twins on Thursday night for the second time this week after giving up five runs and five hits in five innings of a loss last Saturday.
Mariners: Servais said he will likely use an opener Thursday and then turn to Wade LeBlanc (3-2, 6.20 ERA) in the series opener against Baltimore.