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June 10, 2013 at 10:12 PM

Mariners win ugly, but win nonetheless

When you’re as desperate as the Mariners these days, you’ll take your wins any way you can get them. And the Mariners got this 3-2 victory the ugly way over the Houston Astros.

All you need to know is that the game’s only earned run before the ninth was a solo homer by Raul Ibanez that tied things up in the fourth inning. After that, the Astros threw a ball away at first base to allow the go-ahead run to score, then botched a double play that enabled Michael Morse to drive in a huge insurance run with a seventh inning double.

The Astros made it interesting with a Carlos Corporan RBI single to left off Tom Wilhelmsen in the ninth, but they could get no closer. Good thing for the Mariners, who once again struggled on offense and left multiple runners on.

“That’s where we’ve got to do better,’’ Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “Raul (Ibanez) did a great job of getting us going with a home run. Again, Morse is limited, but getting the big hit for us was huge in a tight ballgame and he contributed again. But we’ve got to put better at-bats up in those situations when you’ve got a chance to get another run.’’

The Mariners actually scored a fourth run in the eighth inning after a leadoff double by Brendan Ryan, but it was taken off the board because Carlos Triunfel ran outside his baseline on a bunt. The throw to first hit Triunfel in the helmet and bounced away in foul territory, allowing Ryan to cross the plate. But the play was quickly ruled interference and the Mariners went down quietly from there.

Still, a win is a win. The Mariners need them big right now, especially when Hisashi Iwakuma tosses seven more innings without allowing an earned run.

Iwakuma says he hasn’t felt this good on the mound since going 21-4 for the Rakuten Eagles in Japan back in 2008. He wound up winning that country’s Cy Young equivalent and league MVP honors that year. Not bad for a guy pitching on a fifth place team, who wound up notching almost a third of the Eagles’ 65 wins that year.

In fact, that tale sounds familliar.

Iwakuma already has a quarter of Seattle’s 28 victories this season. And his fourth-place team? Not looking much better than those Eagles at this stage.

“Usually, when I have a good start (to the season), I have a good year,’’ Iwakuma said, through interpreter Antony Suzuki. “So, that’s a good sign.’’

Iwakuma did give up an unearned run when Ryan dropped a front-end throw to second on a potential double play ball. That left runners at the corners and the Astros opened the scoring on a Jose Altuve sacrifice fly. But the Astros aren’t very good, started playing like themselves after that and could not keep up with all the zeroes Iwakuma kept putting on the board.

Iwakuma improved to 7-1 with a 1.79 ERA. At Safeco Field, he’s 3-0 with an ERA of 0,92, with 46 strikeouts and only three walks.

“This is our home field, I feel very comfortable here and I’m very used to the mound here too,’’ Iwakuma said. “So, that helps me a lot, to have that advantage.’’

And he gives the Mariners a real advantage as well. They’ll need much more of that from different sources if they’re to keep this thing afloat in the days and weeks ahead. For now, they’d best focus on the days ahead or the games won’t mean anything in a few weeks.

Comments | More in postgame | Topics: hisashi iwakuma; raul ibanez; michael morse; brendan ryan

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