After a disappointing, series-opening loss to the Phillies Monday, the Mariners rebounded behind a dominant effort by Hisashi Iwakuma with a 5-2 victory at Citizens Bank Park Tuesday in Philadelphia. The win was the 11th in the past 14 games.
Seattle (68-57) had some drama in the ninth inning, relievers Charlie Furbush and Yoervis Medina yielding a run apiece to force manager Lloyd McClendon to bring on closer Fernando Rodney. He got the final out for his 36th save by striking out Cody Asche, who represented the tying run.
Prior to the ninth, the game belonged to Seattle thanks to a supreme performance by Iwakuma. The third-year veteran settled into a groove with a sharp split finger and excellent command of his fastball while improving to 12-6 with a 2.57 ERA.
Since July 1, the Mariners have seen a superior Iwakuma, who missed the first five weeks of the season due to a strained finger on his pitching hand. He notched a season-high 11 strikeouts over eight innings. He gave up four hits and, for the 11th time this season didn’t walk a batter.
In 10 starts since July 1, Iwakuma is 7-2 with a 1.62 ERA and 0.80 WHIP. In his first appearance against the Phillies, Iwakuma cruised, throwing 34 pitches, 28 for strikes, through three innings.
Finding the strike zone did not come as easily for veteran Philadelphia starter A.J. Burnett, particularly in the first inning. As good teams do, the Mariners capitalized.
Austin Jackson and Dustin Ackley walked on eight straight balls from Burnett. A successful double steal moved them into scoring position. Robinson Cano and Logan Morrison drove them home for a 2-0 lead.
In the sixth inning, Kyle Seager hit his 19th homer, fourth on the road, to extend the lead to 3-0. In the eighth with Burnett over 125 pitches, Mike Zunino singled home Cano and Morrison.
Zunino snapped an 0-for-17 run by going 2-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch and two RBI. Ackley added a double with two walks. His season on-base percentage rose to .301.
Seattle notched six hits off Burnett, and garnered an additional six baserunners via four walks and two hit batters.
Seattle seeks the series win starting at 10 a.m. PT Wednesday with James Paxton (3-0, 2.20 ERA) making his fourth start since returning from the disabled list.
Iwakuma last struck out 10 batters July 7 versus Minnesota. His 0.8 walks per nine innings leads baseball.