KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Rookie Jakob Junis would like to stay a little longer next time.
Junis pitched eight sharp innings and the Kansas City Royals beat the Seattle Mariners 9-1 to split their doubleheader Sunday.
Nelson Cruz homered twice and drove in four runs as the Mariners held off the Royals 8-7 in the first game.
Whit Merrifield homered in both games for the Royals.
Junis (4-2), who was added to Kansas City’s roster as the extra 26th man for the twinbill, retired his final 19 batters after giving up an RBI double to Danny Espinosa in the second inning.
Pitching to Cam Gallagher, who made his major league debut on Sunday after being called up from Triple-A Omaha when Salvador Perez was placed on the 10-day disabled list, Junis walked none and struck out a career-high seven.
“To go eight full innings and one run and have Cam catch me in his debut is a pretty special day,” Junis said.
This was Junis’ sixth time up this season, twice as the 26th man, but after the outing he was sent back to Omaha.
“I wanted to work harder to get back up here so I could get more experience,” Junis said. “I know experience is what is going help me become a better pitcher. I’ve done this (several times), coming up here and pitching and getting sent back down. I’m comfortable doing that as much as I’d rather stay up here.”
Melky Cabrera hit a three-run homer off Erasmo Ramirez (4-4) during a four-run third inning. It was Cabrera’s first home run since the Royals acquired him in a July 30 trade with the Chicago White Sox. Cabrera also had an RBI double.
Eric Hosmer homered and drove in three runs for the Royals. Seattle pitchers have allowed an AL-high 172 home runs.
“One inning was big damage,” Ramirez said. “One inning just changed everything. And, everything from now on is going to be about keeping the ball inside the ballpark because that’s the only way they’re getting the runs against me. Having the balls not going that far, everything is going to change. That’s what I have to work and execute better to pitch.”
Ramirez was charged with five runs on eight hits, including three homers, in five-plus innings.
“He had the two out, nobody on in the third inning and then home run, hit, hit, and then another home run,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “It’s a four spot. Made some mistakes with the fastball; didn’t get it in good spots.”
Lorenzo Cain got six hits in the doubleheader, scored three runs, drove two and stole a base for the Royals.
Cruz, Danny Valencia and Kyle Seager homered in the first two innings of the opener as the Mariners took a 7-0 lead off Danny Duffy (7-7) in the opener.
Cruz, who leads the AL with 84 RBIs, hit a three-run drive in a four-run second. He hit his 24th home run in the seventh off Scott Alexander, a shot estimated at 465 feet to center. It was Cruz’s 22nd multi-homer game, his first this season.
Marco Gonzalez, who was making his Mariners’ debut since being acquired in a July 21 with St. Louis, failed to make it through the fifth. James Pazos (3-3) won in relief and Edwin Diaz posted his 23rd save in 27 opportunities.
Segura led off the game with a walk and scored on Valencia’s 13th home run. Seager homered with two outs in the first.
Merrifield hit a two-run homer in the third. Mike Moustakas hit his 31st homer, a two-run drive, in the eighth.
Mariners: Off Monday and will start LHP Ariel Miranda (7-5, 4.41) Tuesday at Oakland.
Royals: RHP Ian Kennedy (4-7, 4.60) will start the opener of a four-game series Monday against the Cardinals with the first two games in Kauffman Stadium. RHP Carlos Martinez (7-9, 3.59) will start for St. Louis.