Walker flashes K's as Seattle tops KC late

Walker flashes K's as Seattle tops KC late

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Right-hander Taijuan Walker struck out five in his second spring start, and Ed Lucas drove in two runs, including the decisive ground-rule double in the eighth as the Mariners topped a Royals split-squad, 7-5, on Wednesday in Cactus League play at Peoria Stadium. Kansas City catcher Drew Butera homered and knocked in two runs on two hits.

The Mariners broke a 4-4 tie with a three-run eighth, started by Lucas' go-ahead double and followed by an RBI single from Dae-Ho Lee, who then scored on an error.

Lucas' RBI ground-rule double

Walker threw three innings of one-run ball, allowing only a leadoff homer in the third to Butera. The 23-year-old Walker allowed three hits with no walks.

"Today was a big step forward, especially with the breaking ball," said Walker. "I've been working on it a lot, and it felt really good today. I established the fastball early and was able to work on my breaking ball like I wanted."

Walker on start, spring progress

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Butera jumped on Walker's first offering in the third inning -- a fastball on the outer half of the plate -- and drove it out to straight center.

"I was throwing a lot of first-pitch fastballs for strikes," said Walker. "He was waiting on it and got it pretty good. During the season, third inning I'll probably mix some offspeed -- curveball and changeup -- just because I feel like they'll start being more aggressive."

Butera added an RBI single in a two-run fourth off Seattle reliever Cody Martin to give Kansas City a 3-2 lead.

Butera's RBI single

Left-handed starter Matt Strahm threw two perfect innings for the Royals before giving up a pair of unearned runs on a walk, a throwing error, a sacrifice fly by Ketel Marte and an RBI single by Kyle Seager. Strahm, a 24-year-old who pitched Class A ball last year as he comes back from Tommy John surgery in 2013, was pulled after 2 2/3 innings with just the one hit allowed.

Seager's RBI single

Royals reliever Scott Alexander replaced Strahm and continued his strong spring with 1 1/3 perfect innings with two strikeouts. The 26-year-old southpaw has allowed just one hit and one walk over 4 1/3 scoreless innings in four Cactus League outings.

Seattle regained the lead at 4-3 in the sixth on an RBI double by Stefen Romero and a run-scoring single by Lucas, but the Royals tied it back up when Whit Merrifield tripled and scored on a passed ball in the eighth.

Romero's run-scoring double

Up next for the Royals: Kansas City takes the road to Glendale to face the division-rival White Sox on Thursday at 2:05 p.m. CT, in a free, exclusive MLB.com webcast. Right-hander Ian Kennedy, signed to a five-year, $70 million deal this offseason, will make his second start of the spring.

Up next for the Mariners: Lefty Wade Miley, acquired from the Red Sox by trade, will make his second start of the spring on Thursday as the Mariners face Jon Lester and the Cubs in a 12:10 p.m. PT game at Peoria Stadium, live on MLB.TV. Joaquin Benoit and Justin De Fratus are among the Mariners' relievers slated to work in the game.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.