After four consecutive no-decisions, in which his teammates couldn’t provide him with sufficient runs, Hisashi Iwakuma pitched to his All-Star form Wednesday and pinned an 8-0 defeat on the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. With Justin Smoak and Franklin Gutierrez hitting home runs, the Mariners snapped a three-game losing streak and won their second on a 10-game road trip.
Iwakuma (13-6) has rarely been better than he was in his 34th start. The Tigers, the American League’s top-hitting team, scratched out four hits, one for extra bases, and flailed all night, unable to deal with Iwakuma’s fastball and splitter.
Iwkuma worked 8.0 innings, struck out six and walked two, throwing 72 of his 106 pitches for strikes. In lowering his ERA to 2.76, he won for the first time since Aug. 21 at Oakland and stretched his streak of scoreless road innings to 25.
“Iwkuma just did a great job, especially against the middle of their order,” said Seattle manager Eric Wedge. “He controlled the game and was efficient enough with his pitches that he was able to get through eight innings.”
In recording their 12th shutout win, the Mariners improved to 67-85 and received a rare burst of offense in the eighth when they scored four runs.
The Mariners had their second victory of the season over Detroit ace Justin Verlander (13-12), the 2011 AL Cy Young winner. They beat him 2-0 April 18 at Safeco Field.
An RBI double by Michael Saunders, followed by an RBI single by Gutierrez, both off Verlander, staked Iwakuma to a 2-0 lead in the second. Smoak’s 17th homer, also off Verlander, padded Seattle’s lead to 3-0 in the sixth.
Smoak came back in the eighth with an RBI single off reliever Phil Coke after Gutierrez doubled with one out. Saunders drove in Smoak with an RBI double, increasing Seattle’s lead to 5-0.
Seattle added two more when, after loading the bases, the Mariners plated Smoak and Saunders on a wild pitch by reliever Al Albuquerque and an error by catcher Alex Avila.
Gutierrez’s eighth homer came in the ninth.
ARMS: Iwakuma fanned baseball’s best hitter, Miguel Cabrera, twice as Cabrera went 0-for-4 . . . Closer Danny Farquhar worked a scoreless ninth without allowing a hit, although he issued one walk.
BATS: The Mariners went 3-for-6 with runners in scoring position and produced eight hits, four for extra bases. In his best game since returning from the disabled list, Gutierrez went 3-for-5. Smoak and Saunders had two hits each.
QUOTES: “I think he’s been so strong in his last three outings. He has the focus and a routine on the day he pitches that’s as good as any pitcher we’ve had here. We got some big hits early to take the lead, and Iwakuma handled it from there” — Eric Wedge, Seattle manager, on starter Hisashi Iwakuma
NOTES: Raul Ibanez’s next home run will be career No. 300. When he hits it, he will join Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez, Ken Griffey Jr., Richie Sexson and Willie Horton as the only players to hit No. 300 wearing a Seattle uniform. Ibanez also needs one home run to reach 29 and match Ted Williams’ 1960 record for most in a season by a 41-year-old.
NEXT: The series ends Thursday, first pitch slated for 10:08 a.m., PT. LHP James Paxton (2-0, 0.75) will throw for Seattle opposite former Mariner Doug Fister (12-9, 3.67). The Mariners will play a three-game series at Anaheim to close out the 2013 road schedule.