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Hernandez, Montero lead Mariners past Royals, 6-1

Kansas City Royals' Billy Butler watches his solo home run in front of Seattle Mariners catcher Jesus Montero during the ninth inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Wednesday, July 18, 2012. The Royals defeated the Mariners 8-7. Kansas City Royals' Billy Butler watches his solo home run in front of Seattle Mariners catcher Jesus Montero during the ninth inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Wednesday, July 18, 2012. The Royals defeated the Mariners 8-7. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
July 19, 2012
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KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Felix Hernandez won his fourth straight decision, Jesus Montero homered and drove in four runs as the Seattle Mariners defeated the Kansas City Royals 6-1 Thursday.

Hernandez (8-5) is 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA in his past seven starts since a loss to San Diego on June 12. While he leads the majors with 143 strikeouts, Hernandez struck out only three, tying his season low. He allowed one run and eight hits, throwing only 89 pitches in eight innings.

Hernandez worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the eighth, striking out Alcides Escobar and retiring Billy Butler on a grounder.

The Mariners jumped on Royals rookie left-hander Will Smith (1-3) for three runs in the second with Montero leading off the inning with his ninth home run. Michael Saunders had an RBI single and Brendan Ryan added a sacrifice fly.

The Mariners increased the lead to 4-0 in the fifth when Ichiro Suzuki doubled and scored on Montero's single.

Montero had an RBI double off the left-field railing in the seventh inning and added a sacrifice fly in the ninth to match his career high with four RBIs.

Hernandez's streak of 19 2-3 scoreless innings ended in the fifth, which Eric Hosmer began with a double and scored on Chris Getz's single.

Smith, just recalled from Triple-A Omaha, gave up four runs on eight hits in 6 1-3 innings, while walking two and striking out five.

The Mariners won three of four against the Royals, who have lost 13 of 17 games.

NOTES: The Mariners faced a left-handed starting pitcher for the fifth straight game for the first time since July 23-28, 2009. .The Royals optioned RHP Vin Mazzaro to Triple-A Omaha. .C Jason Kendall, who has not played in nearly 23 months after having two shoulder surgeries, signed a minor league contract with the Royals and was assigned to their Double-A Northwest Arkansas affiliate. . RHP Erasmo Ramirez, who went on the disabled list July 1 with a mild flexor elbow strain, threw a bullpen session Thursday and will pitch a simulated game this weekend when the Mariners are in Tampa Bay. .RHP Luke Hochevar will start Friday for the Royals in the series opener against Minnesota. The Twins will counter with RHP Nick Blackburn.

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