KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Left-hander Mike Montgomery responded Sunday to a show-me start in the Show-Me State by showing the Kansas City Royals what they drafted and traded away.
Montgomery seized the opportunity of a spot start by carrying a shutout into the seventh inning and helping the Mariners close out their pre-break schedule with an 8-5 victory at Kauffman Stadium.
"It’s definitely satisfying," he said. "But at the same time, it’s really a win for the team. It was great facing the Royals here, and the first time pitching here. It was a lot fun, and I just wanted to have fun with it."
It wasn’t all Montgomery, obviously. The Mariners pounded out 14 hits on this typically sweltering Heartland afternoon, including game-breaker homers by Robinson Cano and Adam Lind in a five-run seventh inning.
The Mariners jumped to an 8-0 lead before Kansas City made a late run.
"At 8-1, I thought we were in great shape," manager Scott Servais said. "Then, I’m glad we we had eight. You can’t put them away here. There’s a reason they won the World Series. They take a lot of pride in that.
"You see it in the ballpark with their fans, who kind of get them going. And they feed off it."
But the Mariners held on and gained a split in the four-game series. The victory sent them into the All-Star break on the plus side of .500 at 45-44. The season resumes Friday against Houston at Safeco Field.
"I think we’ve got a good club," third baseman Kyle Seager said. "I really do. We’ve had some ups and downs. We definitely haven’t been as consistent as we’d like to be. But I like our team."
Montgomery (3-3) gave up one run and five hits in 6 1/3 innings while striking out three and issuing no walks. Edwin Diaz closed out the seventh inning, but the Royals roughed up an ineffective David Rollins in the eighth.
Joaquin Benoit replaced Rollins with one out, one run in and the bases loaded. Brett Eibner’s single to center made it 8-3, and Benoit surrendered a sacrifice fly to Cheslor Cuthbert before ending the inning.
Steve Cishek gave up a leadoff homer in the ninth to Alex Gordon before closing out the victory in a non-save situation.
The Mariners grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning by capitalizing on a throwing error by Royals starter Dillon Gee (3-3). Ketel Marte’s two-out bunt single added another run in the fourth before the five-run seventh.
Montgomery lost his shutout on his 74th and final pitch when Eibner drove a homer over the left-field wall. Montgomery had not allowed a run in 16 2/3 previous innings against the Royals in three career outings.
Kansas City selected Montgomery, now 27, in the first round of the 2008 draft but sent him to Tampa Bay in a franchise-changing deal in December 2012.
Another trade brought Montgomery to the Mariners prior to the 2014 season. A starter throughout his first eight pro seasons, he shifted this season to the bullpen and compiled a 2.15 ERA in 30 appearances.
When an injury forced Taijuan Walker to the disabled list, Montgomery got the opportunity for a spot start. No surprise but, yes, he’ll get at least one more start.
"Coming out of the break," Servais said, "we will need all six starters to get to Felix (Hernandez, who is slotted to return July 20 from the disabled list). So, yeah, he’ll start again. Don’t know which game it will be."
PLAY OF THE GAME: Shortstop Ketel Marte went deep into the hole to backhand a grounder by Alcides Escobar in the third inning, planted his foot and got enough on the throw to get the out at first base.
"I practice that every day," Marte said. "I just tried to slow the game down, and you saw what happened."
PLUS: Kyle Seager has multiple hits in nine of his last 16 games…Mike Montgomery ran his scoreless streak to 16 2/3 innings before Brett Eibner’s homer in the seventh inning. That is the longest streak of the season by a Mariners pitcher…Leonys Martin went 2-for-5 after getting just five hits in his previous 44 at-bats.
MINUS: Lefty reliever David Rollins nearly let the Royals back into the game when he retired just one of five batters in the eighth inning. Rollins had not allowed a run in four innings over four previous appearances…Chris Iannetta was hitless in four at-bats (he did have a walk) and closed the first half in a 6-for-50 slump.
STAT PACK: Kyle Seager’s two-run single in the first inning extended his hitting streak to 13, which matches a May 1-14 run by Robinson Cano for the longest of the season by a Mariner.
QUOTABLE: Steve Cishek closed the game by striking out Salvy Perez with a runner on first base.
It amounted to a bit of revenge: Perez hit a two-run, walk-off double against Cishek in Thursday’s series opener; he also hit a homer Friday against Cishek when the Mariners held on for a 3-2 victory.
So, Cishek’s thoughts when Perez came to the plate again?
"Let’s party," he said. "That’s all I was thinking. I’ve got to attack him here. I don’t want to make the job harder by putting runners on first and second with their three hitter (Kendrys Morales) coming up.
"I was trying to make (Perez) put the ball in play. Thankfully, he swung through it."
After Friday’s game, Cishek had joked he might throw a knuckleball when he next faced Perez. Was this a knuckler?
"No," he joked, "a knuckle slider."
SHORT HOPS: Five of Adam Lind’s 13 homers have been three-run shots…Robinson Cano’s homer in the seventh inning was his 21st of the season, which matches a career high prior to the All-Star break. He also had 21 in 2013 while playing for the New York Yankees…the Mariners finished with a 4-3 edge in the season series against Kansas City…Daniel Robertson’s pinch single in the eighth inning was the Mariners’ 22nd pinch base-hit of the season, which leads all American League clubs…the Mariners have a winning record at the All-Star break for only the season time in six years. They were 51-44 in 2014.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners