During a five-game winning streak, the Mariners have shown an ability to win slugfests, as they did Tuesday night in Atlanta, as well as pitching duels, in which they found themselves Wednesday afternoon. Hisashi Iwakuma bounced back after two subpar outings with seven shutout innings, leading the Mariners to a 2-0 victory and a two-game sweep.
Iwakuma (4-2, 2.66 ERA) allowed six hits, walked none and struck out seven. Yoervis Medina and Fernando Rodney, who picked up his 16th save, got the final six outs without drama to put Seattle (31-28) three games over .500 for the first time since April 11 (6-3).
The Seattle offense plated an insurance run off the Braves’ bullpen in the eighth inning after it took a 1-0 lead in the fourth.
Facing Mike Minor with a makeshift, day-game lineup, the Mariners got off to a slow start. Things started to click in the fourth as Robinson Cano and Stefen Romero started with back-to-back singles. After Kyle Seager and Mike Zunino were retired, leftfielder Cole Gillespie delivered a two-out single to left for a 1-0 lead.
Iwakuma’s excellence held up into the eighth. Romero, batting clean-up, greeted reliever Luis Avilan with a one-out triple. Kyle Seager followed with a clutch single.
Manager Lloyd McClendon again was creative with a day-game lineup versus the left-handed Minor. Regulars Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley, James Jones and Justin Smoak were out of the starting lineup. Willie Bloomquist led off and played first base, centerfielder Endy Chavez batted second and Gillespie batted seventh.
Romero and Gillespie, the two Oregon State products, combined to go 4-for-8 with a triple and an RBI in leading the Mariners. after a day off, Mike Zunino went 1-for-4 and Cano went 1-for-5 with a run scored.
For Smoak, it was his second missed start in 59 games. Smoak is hitting .212 and amid a 4-for-36 slump. He pinch hit for the pitcher in the ninth and stayed in.
Minor (2-4, 3.07 ERA) pitched seven innings, allowing one run on five hits and 10 strikeouts, but couldn’t prevent the Braves from falling to 0-6 in interleague play.
Seattle has a day off Thursday before beginning a four-game series at Tampa Bay Friday.