Hisashi Iwakuma did not have his best stuff Friday, yet he and the Mariners prevailed for a 4-1 victory over the White Sox in front of 23,223 at Safeco Field. For the second time during a four-game winning streak, an opponent error catapulted Seattle (61-54).
In the fifth inning of a shutout thrown by White Sox starter Jose Quintana, Seattle received some good fortune when third baseman Conor Gillaspie dropped a pop-up in shallow left field near the foul line.
The misplay allowed Logan Morrison to reach base and put two aboard. Mike Zunino took a 2-0 offering opposite field for his team-leading 18th home run and a 3-1 Seattle lead.
The home run also halted Quintana’s scoreless-innings streak against the M’s this season at 11.2. Quintana, 25, limited Seattle to four hits in 7.2 scoreless innings July 5 in Chicago. In fact, the left-hander was on a roll. Over his previous nine outings, he was 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA, fourth-lowest in the American League over that span.
For Zunino, the homer tied him for the lead by major-league backstops with Cincinnati’s Devin Mesoraco. Zunino said going to right field is a “good comfort blanket” for him.
“That’s where I really want to drive the ball when I’m feeling good,” Zunino said. “I was able to just get a good fastball in a 2-0 count . . . and barrel it up.
“It’s one of those things where it takes awhile to trust yourself and let the ball travel and get deep, but I hopefully feel I’m on that right path.”
The Mariners wound up sending nine men to the plate in the fifth. With one out and the bases loaded, Kendrys Morales hit a sacrifice fly scoring Chris Taylor for a 4-1 lead. The rookie shortstop increased his batting average to .385 with a 3-for-4 night.
Two more base hits in the sixth knocked Quintana (6-8, 3.04 ERA) from the game after 5.2 innings. Reliever Ronald Belisario retired Dustin Ackley with the bases loaded to limit further damage to Quintana’s line. Quintana gave up four runs, two earned, on seven hits and two walks, one intentional.
The seven-inning performance saw Iwakuma (10-6, 2.86 ERA) give up one run on five hits to became the third Seattle pitcher to reach 10 victories. He struck out three and didn’t walk a batter for the 11th time in 19 starts.
“He pitched a nice game for us tonight,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He didn’t have his best stuff, wasn’t as sharp as he usually is, but he gave us seven solid innings and we got him out of there.
“That’s how good he is, and I think sometimes we take it for granted.”
Chicago’s lone run came in the fourth inning when outfielder Dayan Viciedo sent Iwakuma’s first offering to right-center field for his 16th home run. It was Viciedo’s second home run of the series.
Zunino said he and Iwakuma typically talk in between innings depending on what the hitters are doing, and what is working for the pitcher. Friday, Iwakuma wasn’t as sharp with his split, so they made the necessary adjustments to hold down a good lineup.
“He’s usually pretty open to discussion of what he wants to do,” Zunino said. “His secondary stuff wasn’t as good as it usually is, but he located his fastball great today and I think that’s the biggest part.”
INF Willie Bloomquist is out for the season after he underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee Friday when a scoping procedure determined it was needed. Bloomquist, 36, has been on the 15-day disabled list since July 24 when he injured his knee trying to beat out a ground ball against the Mets. Bloomquist signed a two-year contract and the hope is he will be ready for spring training . . . The Mariners’ bullpen entered Friday’s game with an AL-leading 2.36 ERA, well in front of second-place Oakland (2.77). . . White Sox OF Adam Eaton left the game in the first inning with soreness in his rib cage. He was replaced by Leury Garcia.