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.
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