Some first-inning fireworks proved the difference as the Mariners secured a 3-2 road victory against the Texas Rangers (box score) on a boiling 97-degree night Wednesday in Arlington. Hisashi Iwakuma won his third game in a row in his first appearance since his no-hitter, crossing the career 500 strikeout mark in the process.
In the seventh with the score 3-2 and the tying run at first, Mariners C Jesus Sucre stepped up as the Rangers started to look like they might be getting to Iwakuma, gunning down Rougned Odor as he attempted to steal second, ending the inning.
In the first, Kyle Seager doubled to left and driven in by Nelson Cruz, who swung at the first pitch and bounced it off the left field wall. Seth Smith was the next to convert, hitting his 10th homer of the season.
After that, bats went silent. Seattle managed three more hits, leaving six stranded. Robinson Cano was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, while Seager finished a team-best 2-for-3 with a walk.
Iwakuma fanned six across seven innings, surrendering two runs on five hits. Iwakuma was efficient, throwing 99 pitches in the heat.
Carson Smith made his 13th save of the season, coming on in the ninth and forcing Prince Fielder to ground out to second before striking out Adrian Beltre. Mitch Moreland hit an easy grounder to Logan Morrison at first, who tossed it to the M’s pitcher.
“When your starter goes out and gives you seven (innings), you match up, you can do things you want to do.” — Manager Lloyd McClendon on the performance of his bullpen, after recent struggles.
Out 2½ months, James Paxton threw 30 pitches in game conditions at Globe Life Park and reported his sore finger did well. “It felt great,” Paxton told mlb.com. “I just wanted to get the ball down, execute a few pitches and overall have no pain at all, which is what I had. So that was great.” . . . Despite a poor first inning, Texas starter Chi Chi Gonzalez had a strong recovery after the first inning. The 23-year-old allowed only two more hits after the first and struck out seven . . . Iwakuma retired 13 consecutive batters between the second and sixth innings.
The series concludes Wednesday at 11:05 a.m. PT. Seattle’s Mike Montgomery (4-5, 4.14 ERA) gos against the Rangers’ Derek Holland (0-1, 9.00 ERA) in the latter’s first game in four months since tearing a muscle in his shoulder.