September 19, 2013 in Sports

Iwakuma fires blanks

Larry Lage Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Justin Smoak is congratulated after belting his 17th home run of the season in a victory over Justin Verlander.
(Full-size photo)

DETROIT – Hisashi Iwakuma kept Miguel Cabrera hitless and the Detroit Tigers scoreless, keeping up quite a streak.

Iwakuma extended his scoreless innings streak on the road to 25 and Justin Smoak homered off Justin Verlander to help the Seattle Mariners beat Detroit 8-0 on Wednesday night.

Iwakuma (13-6) matched his career high going eight innings, giving up just four hits and one walk. He struck out six, including Cabrera twice.

“You don’t see many pitchers have Miggy swinging like he was out there,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.

Iwakuma’s 25-inning scoreless streak on the road matches a franchise record. It trails only the 25 2/3 innings scoreless stretch Joe Kelly had on the road for St. Louis earlier this year, according to STATS LLC.

“I don’t know what I might be doing to make it happen,” the Japanese right-hander said through an interpreter. “I’m just trying to focus, pitch my game and stay with my plan.”

Iwakuma, who became an All-Star this year in his second season, joined Randy Johnson (1994) and Brian Holman (1989) as Mariners who have thrown 25 straight scoreless innings on the road.

In the fourth inning, Iwakuma got out of a bases-loaded jam for the second time in the game at Detroit.

“We had a shot,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “But that’s what good pitchers do, they don’t let you capitalize.

“That’s why he’s one of the best.”

Verlander (13-12) allowed three runs, four hits, walked three and struck out six over seven innings.

Seattle had lost eight of nine.

Verlander gave up walks to leadoff hitters in the first two innings, and the second time it led to him giving up two runs.

Smoak got a free pass in the second and scored on Michael Saunders’ double deep into the left-center gap. Nick Franklin followed with an RBI single to give Seattle a 2-0 lead.

Iwakuma hadn’t won any of his previous four starts despite a 2.10 ERA over that stretch.

The M’s added four runs in the eighth and another in the ninth on Gutierrez’s homer.

Seattle’s Danny Farquhar pitched the ninth and faced Alex Avila, a high school teammate, and struck him out to end the game.

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