KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Right pitch, wrong spot.
That was Josh Kinney’s assessment of Billy Butler’s game-winning homer to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning that lifted the Kansas City Royals to an 8-7 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday night.
Kinney, the fourth Mariners pitcher, started off Butler with a slider. Then, with the count 1-1, he threw a fastball that Butler hit out to left-center for his 18th homer.
“It was the right pitch,” Kinney said. “I wanted to keep the ball away from that guy and make him hit it to right field, but the ball just ran right back over the middle of the plate. He’s supposed to hit it. I just missed my spot. You just say, ‘Hey, good AB.’ He got me this time. I’ll get him tomorrow.”
Mariners manager Eric Wedge stayed with Kinney (0-1) in the ninth, instead of bringing in closer Tom Wilhelmsen with the score tied.
“Josh was throwing the ball well,” Wedge said. “You have to save Tom until you’ve got a lead on the road. The pitch was up and Billy Butler is a good hitter.”
Mariners starter Kevin Millwood, who has not won since May 23, allowed seven runs and 10 hits, including a two-run homer to Lorenzo Cain, in five innings.
“Aside from one of Butler’s hits and the homer, they didn’t hit the ball really hard,” Millwood said. “I was up in the zone. What it comes down to is I didn’t pitch real good. I didn’t throw the ball where I wanted to.”
Butler went 3-for-3 and walked twice to raise his average to .300, while he tops the club in home runs and with 56 RBIs. It was his second career walk-off homer, the previous was on June 1, 2011 against the Los Angeles Angels.
“I just got a good pitch to hit and didn’t miss it there at the end,” Butler said. “It was big to pick up the pitching staff. It’s obviously been a tough series for them, but they’ve picked us up throughout the season.”
Greg Holland (4-2) pitched a perfect ninth for the win.
Cain, who had a pinch-hit homer Tuesday, homered in the fifth inning with Butler aboard. Cain, who also singled and scored in the Royals’ three-run second inning, is 10-for-20 in his six-game hitting streak.
Royals starter Bruce Chen, who had an 11.85 ERA while giving up 24 hits and 18 runs in 13 2-3 innings in his past three starts, gave up four runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings, walking none and striking out six.
Chen gave up a solo home run to Kyle Seager in the second and a two-run shot to Casper Wells in the fourth. He has allowed nine home runs in 19 innings over his past four starts.
The Royals led 7-4 after five innings. Alex Gordon had a two-run double in the fourth, while Cain homered in the fifth.
The Kansas City bullpen, however, failed to hold the lead after Chen left. The Mariners scored three runs in the seventh off Jose Mijares and Aaron Crow. Jesus Montero hit a two-run single and scored on Seager’s two-out double.
“The guys swung the bats well, and off a different kind of pitcher,” Wedge said. “We had some long ABs, some good ABs. We pushed back to get back to get back in the game. Doing that on the road shows me something.”
Mike Moustakas doubled home Butler in the Royals’ three-run second. Brayan Pena’s groundout and Chris Getz’s bunt single drove in the other runs in the inning.