SEATTLE (AP) - Suddenly, Kansas City can't hit.
The Royals, with the fourth best average in the American League at .270, were held to just five hits Thursday night in a 4-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners.
The loss came one day after the Royals were nearly no-hit by Oakland's Guillermo Moscoso. They managed one hit in a 7-0 loss to the A's.
It was Justin Vargas' (8-13) turn to baffle the Royals Thursday. He went six innings, allowing four hits, one run, walking two and striking out three.
``Vargas did a real nice job of keeping us off-balance,' Royals manager Ned Yost said. ``He changed speeds real well and was getting us out front, throwing cutters in. We were getting jammed and hitting it off the end of the bat. We could never really square him up.'
For Vargas, it was his first win since Aug. 10.
Tom Wilhelmsen each worked a hitless inning. Brandon League had a little trouble getting out of the ninth.
League took a two-out line drive from Mike Moustakas off his left leg, with Moustakas reaching. Shortstop Brendan Ryan bobbled a Johnny Giavotella ground ball.
League got Salvador Perez to ground out to end the game and earn his 34th save in 39 opportunities.
The big blow was Justin's Smoak two-run home run in the sixth off Luke Hochevar (10-11). It broke a 1-1 tie.
``The only pitch I was upset with was the fastball up to Smoak,' said Hochevar, who went 6 2-3 innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits. He walked three and struck out a season-high nine.
``I was trying to go in with that pitch and I missed by a foot. It just ran back over and he caught it.'
Ichiro Suzuki opened the Mariners first with a first-pitch home run to right field. He has four home runs, all leading off the game. It was his 36th career leadoff home run - out of 94 career homers - sixth on the all-time list.
The Royals had a couple early chances to get to Vargas.
In the second, Jeff Francoeur lifted a one-out triple into the left-field corner. Left-fielder Mike Carp missed it on a dive and it bounced past him.
With the infield drawn in, Moustakas hit a two-hopper to second baseman Dustin Ackley, who threw home on the run. His throw bounced in front of the plate but catcher Chris Gimenez gathered it smoothly on the hop then was slammed by Francoeur. Gimenez held his ground and the ball for the out.
``It was a bang bang and I'm doing anything I can to catch the ball first,' Gimenez said.
Vargas had mild trouble again in the fifth, beginning with a one-out walk to Moustakas. Then with two outs, Perez reached out and lifted a single to center, pushing Moustakas to second.
Alcides Escobar then lined out to second.
The Royals had averaged 7.3 runs in their previous six games before scoring just one - and getting six hits - in their last two.
``That's just how the game goes,' Eric Hosmer said. ``I think the main thing with Vargas also was he was getting a lot of first-pitch outs in the inning, a lot of leadoff batters were getting out. It was just hard for us to get something going.'
The Royals did break through in the sixth. Melky Cabrera reached on a one-out bunt single up the third-base line. With two outs and a 1-1 count to Hosmer, Cabrera stole second, his 18th.
Hosmer followed with a RBI single to center. Cabrera scored without a throw, tying the game 1-1.
The Mariners added a run in the seventh. Suzuki singled then stole second and third, giving him 37, third most in the American League. He scored when Escobar booted Ryan's ground ball.
Notes: Francoeur has hit safely in seven of his past eight games, with three multi-hit games. ... since the All-Star break, Hochevar is 5-3 with a 3.56 ERA. ... Hosmer has hit safely in 16 of his past 17 road games for a .366 average, six home runs and 12 RBI.
The Associated Press News Service
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