PEORIA, Ariz. — Ed Lucas delivered a little forget-me-not Wednesday when he delivered a pair of tie-breaking hits that helped the Mariners to a 7-5 victory over a Kansas City split squad at Peoria Stadium.
Lucas, now 33, spent his first seven professional seasons in the Royals’ organization from 2004-10. He signed a minor-league contract last December with the Mariners.
It was 4-4 when Benji Gonzalez opened the eighth inning with a pop bunt that fell safely against Kansas City reliever Brooks Pounders. Gonzalez went to second on a wild pitch and to third on a long fly.
Lucas then delivered an RBI double, which hopped the right-field wall. Dae-Ho Lee followed with an RBI single before the Mariners scored another run on an error.
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Jonathan Aro gave one run back in the ninth before closing out the victory. The Mariners evened their spring record at 4-4; the Royals are 4-6.
Earlier, Lucas capped a two-run sixth inning with an RBI single. The Mariners trailed 3-2 before gaining an opportunity when shortstop Ramon Torres committed a two-out error on a Robinson Cano grounder.
Gonzalez replaced Cano and stole second. Gonzalez went to third on a wild pitch and scored Stefen Romero’s lined an RBI double into to the left-center gap. Romero scored on Lucas’ RBI single for a 4-3 lead.
Kansas City pulled even in the eighth after Adrian Sampson gave up a leadoff triple to Whit Merrifield on an 0-2 fastball. The run scored when catcher Steve Lerud committed a one-out passed ball.
Mariners starter Taijuan Walker opened the game with three strong innings. The only blemish was a first-pitch fastball to start the third that Drew Butera launched for a homer to center.
"I was throwing a lot of first-pitch fastballs for strikes," Walker said, "and it was one of those things. He was waiting on it."
PLAY OF THE GAME: Second baseman Robinson Cano chased down a hot grounder by Travis Snider that got past first baseman Jesus Montero with one out and a runner on first in the fourth inning.
Cano made a strong throw to second that beat Snider for an out.
PLUS: Taijuan Walker had five strikeouts against (at least part of) the team that had the fewest strikeouts last season in the majors…Cody Martin rallied after a rough beginning by retiring the last seven batters face from the fourth through the sixth innings…Stefen Romero and Ed Lucas had two-out RBIs in the sixth inning.
MINUS: Martin couldn’t take advantage of Cano’s defensive gem in the fourth inning. Instead of runners at second and third with one out, Martin had a chance to escape with a runner at third with two outs. Instead, Martin gave up two runs before ending the inning…Gaby Sanchez swung through a 1-2 slider in the fifth inning with Chris Iannetta running from first base. The result was a double play…A passed ball by catcher Steve Lerud permitted the tying run to score in the eighth inning after Adrian Sampson allowed a leadoff triple to Whit Merrifield on an 0-2 fastball.
STAT PACK: The Mariners turned three Kansas City errors into five unearned runs…The Mariners were 2-for-3 on stolen-base attempts and are 14-for-17 in their eight games.
QUOTABLE: Taijuan Walker saw definite improvement from his first spring outing.
"My first outing, I was getting behind a lot," he said. "So today, I wanted to establish the fastball, get ahead and (locate it) down, too. I felt I was doing that. I got a lot of ground balls, too."
SHORT HOPS: Former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu served as the Royals’ manager. He normally serves as Kansas City’s bench coach, but manager Ned Yost stayed in Surprise for the split-squad game against Milwaukee.
UP NEXT: The Mariners anticipate one of their bigger spring crowds when they meet the Chicago Cubs at 12:10 p.m. Pacific time Thursday at Peoria Stadium.
Lefty Wade Miley makes his second spring start in a matchup against Tacoma native Jon Lester, a lefty who is in his second season with the Cubs after signing a six-year deal for $155 million.
Also scheduled to pitch for the Mariners: Joaquin Benoit, Casey Coleman, Justin De Fratus, Paul Fry and Mayckol Guaipe.
The game can be seen on Root Sports and heard on 710 ESPN.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners