KANSAS CITY, Mo. — How about this for a formula? Keep the score close for most of the game, then deliver the game-deciding hit late, just to add a little drama.
The Mariners conjured some more late-game magic in Sunday’s 2-1 win against the Royals that completed a sweep, although this time the Mariners didn’t wait until the ninth inning.
After winning with hits in the ninth inning the last two nights, catcher Mike Zunino delivered the go-ahead hit with a solo home run in the seventh inning. It was his second homer of the series and his ninth this season.
Roenis Elias went 6 2/3 innings and gave up five hits and one run while striking out five.
The Royals took the early lead in the second with a sacrifice fly from Jason Maxwell that scored Alex Gordon.
The Mariners answered in the fifth. Zunino doubled to lead off the inning, and Willie Bloomquist drove him in with one of his two doubles on the day to tie the score at 1.
Yordano Ventura pitched well for the Royals, going seven innings and giving up two runs with six strikeouts. But the Mariners delivered once again when they really needed it.
Bottom 9th: Fernando Rodney comes into the game for the fourth straight day. He gets the first two batters he faces, then gives up a two-out single to Mike Moustakas. But Rodney gets a strikeout to end the game and fire the arrow. Mariners 2, Royals 1.
Top 9th: Brad Miller reaches on a two-out single but gets picked off by Royals catcher Salvador Perez. Mariners 2, Royals 1.
Bottom 8th: Omar Infante leads off with a single against Medina. Furbush comes in and gets Eric Hosmer to line out. Danny Farquhar comes in and gets Billy Butler to line out and Alex Gordon to strike out. Mariners 2, Royals 1.
Top 8th: Francisley Bueno comes out of the bullpen and retires the Mariners in order: Cano, Morrison, Seager. Mariners 2, Royals 1.
Bottom 7th: Justin Maxwell singles with one out, and Pedro Ciriaco reached on a single on a close play — but that call was overturned and Ciriaco was ruled out. Medina came in with two outs for Elias and got Lorenzo Cain to fly out. Mariners 2, Royals 1.
Top 7th: Mike Zunino leads off the inning with a solo home run, and Dustin Ackley and Brad Miller follow with a single. But Willie Bloomquist can’t advance them with a bunt and Endy Chavez and James Jones can’t drive them in. Mariners 2, Royals 1.
Bottom 6th: Elias gets the Royals in order for the first time this game. Mariners 1, Royals 1.
Top 6th: Robinson Cano walks, but that’s all. Ventura has given up three hits today, all doubles and two to Willie Bloomquist. Mariners 1, Royals 1.
Bottom 5th: Omar Infante walks with two outs, but Elias limits it to that. Mariners 1, Royals 1.
Top 5th: Mike Zunino singles, and Willie Bloomquist drives him in with a two-out RBI double, Bloomquist’s second double of the game. Mariners 1, Royals 1.
Bottom 4th: Elias gives up one single to Perez but that’s it. Adds two more strikeouts and now has three. Royals 1, Mariners 0.
Top 4th: Ventura gets the Mariners in order. Adds two more strikeouts. He now has five. Royals 1, Mariners 0.
Bottom 3rd: Billy Butler singled with two outs, but he tried to stretch it into a double, and being not the fleetest of foot, he was thrown out easily by Chavez. Royals 1, Mariners 0.
Top 3rd: Willie Bloomquist doubles with one out, but Endy Chavez and James Jones couldn’t drive him in. Royals 1, Mariners 0.
Bottom 2nd: Elias gives up back-to-back singles to Alex Gordon and Sal Perez to lead off the inning. Danny Valencia advanced Gordon to third on a fly out to James Jones in center, and Justin Maxwell drove in Gordon with a sac fly to Jones in shallow center. Elias hit Alcides Escobar to load the bases but struck out Lorenzo Cain. He hasn’t been sharp, but has worked his way out of jams early. Royals 1, Mariners 0.
Top 2nd: Morrison led off the inning with a walk and Kyle Seager moved him over with a sac bunt. But Mike Zunino fouled out and Dustin Ackley lined out. Mariners 0, Royals 0.
Bottom 1st: Elias walks Lorenzo Cain to start the game but gets the next three Royals in order. Mariners 0, Royals 0.
Top 1st: Easy first inning for Ventura, who gets the Mariners in order with just seven pitches. Mariners 0, Royals 0.