- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 23, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) - Felix Hernandez didn’t feel like he was at his best Monday night. Unfortunately for the Mariners’ ace, he needed a near-perfect outing to avoid a loss after receiving little support from his offense.

Seattle managed two hits, Hernandez gave up four runs in 6 2/3 innings and the Kansas City Royals beat the Mariners 4-1 in the opener of a three-game series.

“They just put the bat on the ball,” Hernandez said. “I made good pitches and they get a base hit. Sometimes it happens.”

Hernandez (10-4) gave up nine hits and a walk. He struck out five, but also allowed a 1-0 first-inning lead to slip away.

“I thought he had good stuff,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “You look at their numbers, they don’t walk, they don’t strikeout. They just pester you.”

Robinson Cano gave the Mariners an early advantage with a home run, but the Royals came right back.

Alex Rios tied the game at 1 with a run-scoring single in the second. Rios advanced to second on the throw to the plate and Omar Infante followed with a double off the wall in right to score Rios.

Mike Moustakas doubled in the third to score Alcides Escobar and give the Royals a 3-1 lead.

Escobar, who had a three-hit night, drove in Jarrod Dyson with a single in the seventh. Dyson singled and stole second with two outs to get into scoring position.

Joe Blanton (2-0), making his second start in the majors this season since briefly retiring last year, pitched 6-plus innings of two-hit ball. He struck out seven and walked none.

“Being able to get back was kind of almost the pinnacle and now I’m just riding it out and enjoying it,” said Blanton, who struck out seven. “Probably more than I enjoyed it before because I definitely appreciate it more and know how hard it is and what it takes.”

After Cano’s home run, Blanton retired the next 16 batters before Austin Jackson doubled to lead off the seventh.

Kelvin Herrera replaced Blanton and promptly moved Jackson to third with a wild pitch, but retired the next three batters to escape the jam.

Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland all pitched one inning of hitless relief. Holland earned his 14th save in 15 opportunities.

UP NEXT

Mariners: Rookie LHP Mike Montgomery takes the mound against the Royals, the team that drafted him 36th overall in the 2008 draft.

Royals: RHP Jeremy Guthrie attempts to solve a Mariners team that has proved to be trouble for the veteran in his career. He is 2-7 with a 5.40 ERA lifetime against Seattle.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mariners: LHP James Paxton still is not cleared to begin throwing, manager Lloyd McClendon said. Paxton is dealing with a strained tendon in the middle finger of his throwing hand.

Royals: Danny Duffy is still scheduled to come off the DL on Wednesday and start the series finale at Seattle. Duffy, who has been recovering from an inflamed left shoulder, takes Yordano Ventura’s spot in the rotation. Ventura went on the DL with irritation in the ulnar nerve of his right elbow.

CRUZ INJURED

Seattle right fielder Nelson Cruz left the game in the seventh inning after popping his pelvic bone out of place. The Mariners initially called the injury a tight right hamstring.

“They got it popped back in and he is OK now, we’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” said McClendon, who didn’t think it would be a long-term injury.

MARINERS OFFENSE TAMED

The Mariners had two hits in a game for the fourth time this season, and third time in less than two weeks. Seattle also struck out 13 times, the tenth time they have whiffed at least that many times.

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