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Blanton outduels Felix; Royals take opener
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Royals down Seattle in opener - photo by

SEATTLE— Royals right-hander Joe Blanton, making another spot start in the injury-riddled rotation, overmatched the Mariners through six-plus innings, and Alcides Escobar delivered three hits as the Royals held off the Mariners, 4-1, on Monday night at Safeco Field.

Blanton, who came out of retirement this season, made his second straight strong start. He beat Milwaukee last Wednesday, going five innings and giving up just one run. This time he was phenomenal -- he faced one over the minimum in six innings before exiting when he gave up a leadoff double in the seventh.

“Any time you can go six innings and not have to work out of the stretch, I’d say you have accomplished something,” said Royals manager Ned Yost.

Blanton struck out seven and walked none, also giving up a solo homer to Robinson Cano in the first. He is just one of several veterans who general manager Dayton Moore signed to provide pitching depth.

“We have talked about it before but it’s another example of Dayton having the vision and foresight to give Joe Blanton a chance, Ryan Madson a chance, Chris Young, and Franklin Morales,” Yost said. “[We] don’t know where we’d be without them.

“We’ve got a tough [nine-game] road trip here. Nice way to start it off.”

Felix Hernandez took the loss for the Mariners. He went 6 2/3 innings and gave up a season-high nine hits, while allowing four runs. He walked one and struck out five.

“Felix pitched great tonight. They weren’t hitting hard balls, just ground balls and a couple of bloopers,” Cano said. “That’s the game.”