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June 25, 2014 at 11:18 PM

Red Sox 5, Mariners 4 — Iwakuma struggles as Seattle’s five game winning streak is snapped

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Note: Jesus Montero was cleaning out his locker and packing up his stuff. He will be joining the Rainiers, who are getting on a plane at like 5 a.m. to fly to Houston, then layover there for a few hours and fly to El Paso to play tomorrow night. That’s the PCL dream.  The corresponding move is obviously Michael Saunders being activated off the DL.

Hisashi Iwakuma hasn’t quite figured out the Boston Red Sox. The all-star right-hander has mowed down plenty of teams in his brief career in the big leagues. But the reigning World Series champs? Well, they do what few teams in baseball have done – hit Iwakuma and hit him hard.

The loss snapped Seattle’s five-game winning streak and prevented a rare sweep of Boston.

Iwakuma pitched into the fourth inning, but never made it out, giving up five runs on eight hits with a walk and three strikeouts.

It was his shortest start of the season.

“I couldn’t get first pitch strikes which cost me,” Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki.

A year ago, the Red Sox saddled him with his shortest outing of the 2013 season. On July 9 at Safeco Field, Iwakuma lasted just three innings, allowing six runs on eight hits, including three homers in an 11-8 loss.

In three career starts against Boston, Iwakuma has pitched just 12 2/3 innings, giving up 12 earned runs on 24 hits for a 8.53 earned run average.

“Every one of them put up good at-bats,” he said. “If you look at their No. 3 hitter and No. 4 hitter, they are tough outs and if you make a mistake, it will cost you.”

He made one of those mistakes to the No. 4 hitter – David Ortiz. In the first inning, he left a 2-0 fastball over the middle of the plate to Ortiz with a runner on first, which is never a good thing. Ortiz crushed the pitch off the scoreboard in right field for a two-run homer and a 2-0 first-inning lead.

“I tried to go down and away,” Iwakuma said. “I left it inside-middle. But falling behind 2-0 was the bigger mistake.”

Two of the Mariners’ hottest hitters answered for Iwakuma against Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz.  Kyle Seager blasted his 12th homer of the season – and 11th at Safeco – ripping a solo homer to right field. Following a Logan Morrison single, Mike Zunino hit his fourth homer in five games, ripping a line drive over the wall in left field for a two-run homer – his 11th of the season.

But Iwakuma couldn’t make the 3-2 lead stand-up. He gave up three straight hits -a double to Jackie Bradley Jr. and singles to Brock Holt and Daniel Nava for the tying run. Then Ortiz got to him again, giving the Red Sox the lead for good. Ortiz singled, yes, singled over right fielder Stefen Romero’s head, short-hopping the wall in right to score Holt.

In seven career at-bats, Ortiz has four hits, including two homers and four RBI.

Iwakuma loaded the bases with no outs to start the fifth on a two singles and a walk.

With Ortiz coming to the plate again, McClendon went to the bullpen, ending Iwakuma’s night.

Iwakuma had been bothered by neck pain following his start on June 15 against Texas. In his two starts after, he’s pitched just nine innings total, giving up 10 runs on 17 hits. But he wouldn’t use the neck as an excuse.

“I do feel it, but it’s not affecting my pitching at all,” he said. “I’m responsible for the last two starts. I need to reflect on what I’ve done wrong and prepare for the next one.”

Tom Wilhelmsen came into the difficult situation and was able to get Ortiz to ground into a tough double play into the shift.

Brad Miller fielded the ground ball about 15 feet on the second base side of the bag and had no one to throw to. Instead, he sprinted to second, stepped on the bag and threw to first off balance to get Ortiz.

“I knew Ortiz was running,” Miller said. “But I had (Dustin) Pedroia coming down on me. I was just trying run it there and then get rid of it.”

A run that was charged to Iwakuma scored, but it could have been worse. Wilhelmsen struck out Jonny Gomes to end the inning.

Wilhelmsen and Brandon Maurer combined to keep the Red Sox at five runs. Wilhelmsen tossed three scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and striking out three.

Maurer, who was called up before the game, showed that his new role as a reliever might be his calling. He pitched two scoreless innings, giving up one hit and striking out three batters with his fastball touching 99 mph.

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