KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jason Vargas opened the ninth inning with a strikeout, and that point he had pitched longer than any Royals starter this season.
One out and a Kyle Seager double later, manager Ned Yost emerged from the dugout, and usually that means a pitching change
Not this time. Vargas remained in the game to face Stefen Romero and got a result, a soft-on hopper to second baseman Pedro Ciriaco. A bobble kept the inning alive.
Pinch hitter Dustin Ackley then ruined it for Vargas and the Royals, lining an RBI single to right to give the Mariners a 2-1 victory Saturday.
The Royals got a glimmer of hope in the ninth when the team's speedster, Jarrod Dyson, coaxed a one-out walk. But Eric Hosmer's offered on closer Fernando Rodney's first pitch, hitting a cracked bat grounder to second that was turned into a double play.
Vargas was terrific, keeping the Royals alive in a game in which the Mariners pitching was even better.
The Royals managed three hits off three Mariners pitchers, all in the fifth inning. One was an Alex Gordon home run.
After winning 10 straight, the Royals have dropped three in a row and look to avoid the sweep on Sunday.
Mariners starter Chris Young gave the Royals fits, just as Hisashi Iwakuma the previous night. The Royals eventually got to Iwakuma. It never happened with Young.
Except for Gordon. He had taken Young to the right field wall in his first plate appearances, and cleared it in the fifth, driving a full count pitch for the Royals' first hit.
It also marked the team's 21st home run in the last 22 games. It took the Royals 52 games to hit their first 21 home runs.
Gordon sat in the clubhouse before the game with a towel over his head as he recovers from flu-like symptoms, but no Royal had better swings Saturday.
Brad Miller, Friday's hero with a solo home run off closer Greg Holland, got the Mariners started this time with a perfectly placed bunt.
He moved around the bases and scored on singles by James Jones and Cole Gillespie, but Vargas ended the uprising by coaxing a double play grounder from Logan Morrison.
But without enough support, Vargas was the hard-luck loser and his record dropped to 7-3.
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