KANSAS CITY -- Rookie right-hander Jake Junis was excellent in a spot start and Melky Cabrera drove in four runs as the Royals rolled to a 9-1 win in Game 2 to split Sunday's doubleheader at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals pulled a half-game ahead of the Rays and 1 1/2 games in front of the Mariners for the second American League Wild Card spot. Kansas City also sits 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Indians in the AL Central.

Junis, the 26th man for the twin bill, went eight innings with a career-high seven strikeouts, retiring the last 19 batters he faced. Junis, who made his first Major League start since June 29, gave up one run on four hits to pick up his fourth win of the season.

After Danny Espinosa's RBI double opened the scoring in the second inning, Mariners starter Erasmo Ramirez was tagged for five runs on eight hits over his five frames in the loss.

Melk-man delivers: With the scored tied at 1 in the third inning, Cabrera launched his first home run since being acquired by the Royals in a trade on July 30. Following a solo home run by Whit Merrifield, Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer both singled with two out. On a 1-1 pitch, Cabrera, who was a triple shy of the cycle, drilled his 14th home run of the season to right-center, giving the Royals a 4-1 lead.