SEATTLE — There is still some Mariners excitement to be had as the final games of an otherwise forgettable season tick away.
Monday was an example of that, even if it came in defeat.
Seattle rallied to take a lead in the seventh inning, then had to rally again to tie the game in the eighth, but couldn’t manage one more in the 12th, falling to playoff-hopeful Kansas City, 6-5, in front of 12,790 at Safeco Field.
The Royals earned the victory in the four-hour-plus game when Alex Gordon led off with a walk in the 12th, advanced to second base on a sacrifice, and scored on a double to left by Salvador Perez. Johnny Giavotella nearly scored on the play, as well, but was thrown out on a close call at home.
The Mariners led off the bottom of the inning with a pair of walks, but Kansas City closer Greg Holland retired the next three batters for his 45th save. Michael Saunders struck out on a check swing, throwing his bat at disgust on the called third strike by plate umpire Vic Carapazza.
It marked the 21st extra-innings game for Seattle this season, which matches a team record set in 1982; the last eight have been defeats.
With the victory, the Royals are three games back in the American League wild-card race behind Cleveland.
A bunch of wild, back-and-forth innings began in the seventh, when the Mariners scored twice to take a 3-2 lead. The action started when Mike Zunino smashed a knuckling line-drive to center that got by outfielder Jarrod Dyson, allowing Saunders to score from first after a Justin Smoak walk.
One batter later, Nick Franklin sliced a single to left that scored Zunino, who reached third on Dyson’s error. Franklin extended his hitting streak to seven games, matching a personal best.
Kansas City responded in the eighth off relief pitcher Charlie Furbush.
With two on and one out, Kansas City’s Alcides Escobar scored on a single by Emilio Bonifacio to tie the game at 3-3. Disappointing, sure, but not as much as what followed.
The Mariners had a chance to get out of the inning a batter later but couldn’t convert a double-play ball, allowing Gordon to score the go-ahead run. Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer hit a ground ball to Brad Miller at short, but Franklin bounced the relay throw from second and Dustin Ackley couldn’t handle it at first.
The visitors would tack on an insurance run on a run-scoring single by Perez, and it was needed.
The Mariners got back-to-back home runs from Franklin Gutierrez and Saunders in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game at 5-5. It was the sixth time this season Seattle has homered in consecutive at-bats.
The Mariners nearly broke through in the 10th inning as Kyle Seager led off with a double to right center and advanced to third base when outfielder Justin Maxwell bobbled the ball on the warning track. Three batters later, including a couple of intentional walks, pinch hitter Endy Chavez hit a shallow fly to left field and Gordon was just able to gun down Seager on a controversial play at the plate.
Both teams blew strong performance from their starters, as Seattle’s Brandon Maurer and Kansas City’s Yordano Ventura went pitch-for-pitch early on, each allowing just one earned run and striking out six.
Maurer, who hasn’t won in eight starts, went a personal-best seven innings, allowing four hits. His previous best was 6 2/3 innings April 20 at Texas.
Ventura, making just his second big-league start after being called up last week, reached 100 miles per hour on his fastball, allowed two hits through 5 2/3 innings.