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Iwakuma, Mariners shut out Tigers 8-0

The SportsXchange

DETROIT -- Hisashi Iwakuma can't explain why he's so good at silencing hostile crowds. What's certain is that Iwakuma has taken a spot in the Seattle Mariners record book.

Iwakuma tossed eight shutout innings to lead the Mariners to an 8-0 win over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday at Comerica Park.

Iwakuma (13-6), who gave up four hits and struck out six, tied a club-record with 25 consecutive scoreless innings on the road. He shares the mark with Brian Holman (1989) and Randy Johnson (1994).

"I didn't know about that fact," he said through his translator. "I don't know what's keeping me going very successfully the last couple of starts on the road. Just pitching my game and knowing the situation."

Iwakuma, who has blanked the Tigers in 14 innings this season, only allowed two hits after the first inning and retired the majors' leading hitter, Miguel Cabrera, four times. Cabrera struck out twice, waving helplessly at Iwakuma's darting breaking pitches.

"He's been so strong the last three (road) games," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "You don't see Miggy swing the way he did tonight very often. Iwakuma did a great job against the middle of their order."

Detroit, which saw its three-game winning streak snapped, was shut out for the 11th time in 2013.

Iwakuma wriggled out of two bases-loaded jams during the first four innings to keep the Tigers scoreless. He snuffed out the initial threat by striking out Matt Tuiasosopo in the first inning, and then escaped damage in the fourth by inducing a double-play grounder from Hernan Perez.

"Just being aggressive, staying down in the zone and not rushing," Iwakuma said of the bases-loaded situations.

Iwakuma retired 13 of the last 14 batters he faced.

"He has a focus and a routine on the day he pitches which is as good as any starting pitcher I've had, especially during the games," Wedge said. "He's in the moment, he gets himself in the zone and locks it in."

Justin Smoak had two hits-- including his 17th homer -- scored three runs and drove in two for the Mariners, who had lost eight of their last nine coming into Wednesday's game. Michael Saunders supplied a pair of run-scoring doubles and Franklin Gutierrez added three hits, including a solo homer.

Justin Verlander (13-12), who gave up three runs in seven innings, lost for the fourth time in his last five decisions. The Tigers entered the day with a six-game lead over second-place Cleveland in the American League Central.

Smoak ripped his opposite-field, solo homer with two out in the sixth to give the Mariners a 3-0 lead.

"Smoak actually hit a really, really good pitch," Verlander said. "I couldn't have thrown any better pitch at that point."

Smoak and Saunders drove in runs during Seattle's four-run eighth against relievers Phil Coke and Al Alburquerque.

Coke's struggles are particular troublesome to the Tigers, who would like him to be the second left-hander out of the bullpen during the postseason. He walked two of the four batters he faced on Tuesday, then gave up three earned runs in two-thirds of an inning Wednesday.

"Phil is just not making enough quality pitches to get big league hitters out right now," manager Jim Leyland said.

NOTES: Tigers 2B Omar Infante and RF Torii Hunter were not in the lineup. Infante felt some tightness in his quad Tuesday, but Leyland said he's fine. Hunter is hitting .179 with no homers in 56 September at-bats. Both will be back in the lineup for the series finale Thursday afternoon. ... Detroit rehired Larry Parrish as manager of Triple-A Toledo. Parrish managed the Mud Hens in two previous stints and served as the Tigers' manager in 1998-99. He replaces Phil Nevin, who was fired after the minor league season. ... Wedge, who is on the hot seat, feels that it would be a mistake for the organization to make wholesale changes. "When you sign up for a rebuild like I did, you know you're going to have some tough days," he said. "You're not going to see the wins you'd like to see right way. If you're going to do it the right way, you've got to stick with it. If you don't, they pull the cord on it and start all over. How's that worked out for them? You've got to stick with something at some point in time." ... The Mariners have 12 walk-off losses this year and 48 over the past four seasons.
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