SEATTLE — Hisashi Iwakuma retired 16 batters in a row at one point, and Raul Ibanez launched a three-run home run in a rare start as the Mariners cruised past the struggling Oakland Athletics, 6-3, to open a three-game series Friday at Safeco Field.
Iwakuma dazzled, once again, in front of 25,509, allowing two runs on four hits in seven innings to improve to 4-1. The 32-year-old right-hander walked none and struck out nine as his earned-run average actually rose slightly to 1.74.
Seattle (17-19) has won eight of its last 11 games and seven of nine at home.
Iwakuma got his best run support since his first start of the season, and he wouldn’t need much. The Tokyo native, after allowing a leadoff single to ex-Mariners catcher John Jaso, didn’t concede another base runner until he was up 6-0 with one out in the sixth inning.
That breakthrough came on an infield single by Eric Sogard and would lead to Oakland’s first two runs, as Jaso singled behind him and Jed Lowrie later brought both home with a double to right.
It marked the first earned runs at home for Iwakuma in 20 1/3 innings, dating to April 12.
The A’s added a run in the eighth on a solo home run by Derek Norris off relief pitcher Oliver Perez, but Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen finished the job to earn his 10th save in as many opportunities.
Oakland (18-19) has lost five in a row and 15 of its last 21 since a 12-4 start.
The Mariners raced out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back. Kyle Seager led off a rally with a one-out walk, advanced to third when a Kendrys Morales ground ball sneaked past the left side of the A’s infield, and came home on a single up the middle by Michael Morse.
Justin Smoak followed with an RBI double to right to score Morales, but the danger stopped there as Raul Ibanez grounded out and Jesus Montero struck out to end the inning.
Ibanez would make up for it in the third inning, when he added needed insurance with a three-run blast to right field to make it 5-0. It was the third home run of the year for the veteran outfielder, who was making just his second start since April 27 and came into the game batting .180 in 61 at-bats.
The big inning was aided early on, when Lowrie couldn’t cleanly field a grounder to short by Seager.
Morales made it 6-0 in the fifth inning with a double to deep right-center that scored Seager, who reached base four times (two singles, two walks) and scored three runs.
Oakland starter Dan Straily (1-1) took the loss, allowing six earned runs on six hits and four walks before being pulled with no outs in the sixth.
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