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Iwakuma dominant as Mariners edge Royals

The SportsXchange

SEATTLE -- Hisashi Iwakuma didn't want to push his luck Thursday night, not after the way the Seattle Mariners starter dominated for eight innings of his 2013 home debut.

Iwakuma threw eight scoreless innings before telling manager Lloyd McClendon that he was done for the night, then closer Fernando Rodney did the rest in Seattle's 1-0 win over the Kansas City Royals.

The Mariners (18-16) only needed two hits to win for the sixth time in seven games. Corey Hart's third-inning RBI single was all the offense Seattle and its starting pitcher needed in the 2-hour, 25-minute game.

Iwakuma (2-0) allowed just four hits without issuing a walk in his second start of the season. He struck out seven batters while throwing 93 pitches through eight innings of work.

"He gave us everything he had tonight," McClendon said afterward, "and probably a little bit more."

Kansas City first baseman Eric Hosmer got two of the Royals' four hits. He had a one-out single off Iwakuma in the first, then moved to second on a groundout. No other Kansas City baserunner got past first base until after Iwakuma left the game to open the ninth.

"Today I was close to 100 percent," said Iwakuma, who missed all of spring training and the month of April with a finger injury. "As the game got deeper, I was able to command all of my pitches."

It was a much-improved outing over the four-run performance Iwakuma had over 6 2/3 innings of his season debut five days earlier.

"He's getting better each and every time out," McClendon said. "But there's a lot more room for improvement. It just goes to show you how good he is."

Rodney survived a shaky start to the ninth inning to earn his 10th save of the season. He walked two of the first three batters he faced before getting a strikeout and game-ending groundout to finish off the win.

Kansas City (16-18) had just six baserunners, only two of which got past first base. No Royals player advanced as far as third base in the loss.

Royals manager Ned Yost gave all the credit to Iwakuma.

"The best way I can describe it was that he just really pitched effectively," Yost said. "He had a tremendous split (-finger fastball), and he didn't make mistakes with it."

Seattle DH Corey Hart drove in the only run of the game with a third-inning RBI. Hart's two-out single drove in catcher Mike Zunino from third base and came after the Royals intentionally walked second baseman Robinson Cano in front of him.

Kansas City starter Danny Duffy (1-3) overcame some early control problems to throw six solid innings, allowing just one earned run off two hits. Reliever Kelvin Herrera retired all six batters he faced during the seventh and eighth innings.

"He threw well," Hart said, "but our guy threw better."

NOTES: Kansas City 2B Omar Infante (back spasms) was not in the starting lineup for the second consecutive game Thursday. Danny Valencia, a natural third baseman, got the start again. ... Seattle LHP James Paxton and RHP Taijuan Walker, two-thirds of the projected starting rotation, are scheduled to do bullpen sessions in the coming days as they rehab injuries. Paxton (strained lat muscle) is slated for a session on Friday, while Walker (shoulder soreness) has a Sunday session scheduled. Both players are currently on the 15-day disabled list and are considered among Seattle's top prospects. ... Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma was making his second start of the season after missing all of spring training and the month of April with a strained tendon in a finger on his pitching hand.

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