Not this time. Not the way the Mariners are rolling.
Kendrys Morales hit a two-run homer in the first inning against Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey — and Iwakuma and the bullpen made it hold up in completing a three-game sweep over the Blue Jays and an 8-1 homestand.
“We had the lead early,” Iwakuma said, “and that was great. I just needed to keep the ball down and get quick outs. I was able to do that.”
Iwakuma (11-6) worked the first 62⁄3 innings before a four-reliever relay completed the shutout.
Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his 35th save, which pulled him back into a tie with Kansas City’s Greg Holland for the American League lead.
“It’s been good baseball,” catcher Mike Zunino said. “We’ve won in a variety of ways, which I think is good because that tests us in different ways. But this game sums it all up.
“We won a 2-0 game because our pitching staff held us right there.”
The Mariners, at 65-55, moved to 10 games above .500 for the first time since finishing the 2007 season at 88-74. They also remained in a virtual tie with Detroit (64-54) for the AL’s final wild-card berth.
The Tigers play Pittsburgh on Thursday, while the Mariners have an open date. That means, barring a rainout, the two teams will be separated by one-half game when they open a three-game weekend series Friday at Detroit.
This was a sweet turnaround for Iwakuma who lost a 1-0 heartbreaker on Aug. 3 at Baltimore when he surrendered a home run in the first inning. This time, it was the Mariners who struck early.
Austin Jackson opened the Mariners’ first with a single through the left side. Dickey (9-12) retired the next two hitters before Morales skied a 1-2 knuckler into the right-field seats for a 2-0 lead.
“He just left it up,” Morales said, “and I was able to connect. It’s not simple. I’ve hit against him in the past, and it’s not easy.”
Morales also had a single and a walk in four plate appearances after closing Tuesday’s victory with a homer and a double. It’s exactly what a pitching-rich, run-starved club needs.
“They brought me here for a reason,” said Morales, whom the Mariners reacquired in a July 24 trade with Minnesota. “While I haven’t had the results up to this point, I’ve kept working hard to bring that production.”
Iwakuma nursed the 2-0 lead into the seventh before issuing his first walk — to Munenori Kawasaki with one out. After Juan Francisco’s grounder resulted in a force at second, the Mariners went to the bullpen.
The switch to lefty Charlie Furbush prompted a counter-move: Danny Valencia batted for Josh Thole. Furbush walked Valencia, which turned over the lineup and led to another pitching change
Danny Farquhar struck out Jose Reyes.
Yoervis Medina worked around a two-out single in the eighth before Rodney closed out the victory. The Blue Jays scored four runs in the three-game series and fell three games behind the Mariners and Tigers.
“Yeah, they shut down our offense stone cold,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “It was pretty much a mismatch. Then they get to the bullpen, and there’s no let-up there either.”
More Sports Headlines
Broken neck doesn't stymie his passion for racing motorcycles Community sports: Bulletin board Failure to communicate costs Seahawks Huskies’ Browning ‘day to day’ with shoulder injury Report: Mariners interview Rays coach for managerial opening Seahawks to lift fullback Coleman’s suspension Eagles beat Giants 27-7, move into tie for first in NFC East Bucks' Henson alleges racial profiling at jewelry store
Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.