The Mariners pounded three home runs in support of Hisashi Iwakuma Saturday, including a grand slam by Dustin Ackley, and throttled the Blue Jays 8-1 at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. Iwakuma (3-1) won for the first time since April 12 and the Mariners (15-17) captured their seventh win in nine games.
Following up on a Felix Hernandez gem Friday night, Iwakuma allowed one earned run on five hits over 7.0 innings. He struck out five, walked three and kept the Blue Jays off the board until the seventh inning, lowering his ERA to 1.61. Iwakuma received just one run of support in his three previous starts.
Ackley had the big blow in the fourth inning, but Michael Saunders had his best game of the season, collecting three hits, including two home runs, and driving in three runs from the leadoff spot.
The anticipated matchup of Iwakuma and R.A. Dickey, the former Mariner (2008) who won the 2012 National League Cy Young award with the Mets, never materialized.
After Saunders greeted Dickey with a solo homer to lead off the game, the Mariners came back in the fourth inning and blew open the contest. Kendrys Morales singled, Raul Ibanez and Kelly Shoppach walked, and then Ackley whacked a grand slam on a full count for a 5-0 Seattle lead.
Ackley’s was the first salami of the season for a Seattle player and also the first of Ackley’s career.
Saunders banged his second home run in the sixth for a 6-0 advantage and then Shoppach drove in Raul Ibanez, who tripled, with a double.
Saunders has four career games with two home runs. He also did it June 30, 2010 at Yankee Stadium, April 27, 2012 at Toronto and Aug. 20, 2012 vs. Cleveland.
Saunders also accounted for Seattle’s final run with a double in the ninth that scored Robert Andino.
The Mariners chased Dickey, a loser of three in a row, after he allowed seven earned runs on six hits.
The Mariners have won three consecutive series after not winning any for most of the first month of the season. They will go for their first sweep Sunday with lefty Joe Saunders (2-3, 5.25) opposing former Mariner Brandon Morrow (0-2, 5.29). Morrow is 3-1 in his career against Seattle.