After starring as one of baseball's top pitchers for most of the season, Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma must find a way to regroup after two straight defeats.
The Mariners might depend on it considering their offensive struggles.
Iwakuma looks to avoid dropping a third straight start Friday night when he takes the mound in the series opener with the Chicago Cubs at Safeco Field.
Iwakuma (7-3, 2.26 ERA) posted a 1.70 ERA while going undefeated in nine straight outings, eight of them quality starts. Then Oakland handed him two straight losses as he gave up eight runs and 14 hits over 12 innings. He went seven innings in last Friday's 6-3 setback, yielding four runs.
"He gave us a chance to win the ballgame, he just wasn't quite as sharp with his secondary stuff," manager Eric Wedge said.
Oakland connected for three homers off Iwakuma, who had held opponents homerless in his previous four starts.
"Overall, I thought I felt pretty good on the mound," he said. "My pitches were there, it's just those home runs that I gave up were not where I wanted them location-wise and they cost me."
Seattle's offense, which is batting an AL-worst .236, continues to sputter, going 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position over the last three contests.
Raul Ibanez remains one of the lone bright spots, homering four times over the last four games, but his 18th of the year couldn't help the Mariners avoid a 4-2 home loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
"We've got to hit. It's time to hit," Wedge said after Seattle (34-45) stranded 10 runners. "You're not going to win games unless you hit."
The Cubs (33-44) have been enjoying some good offense lately, slugging .517 over their last four games while scoring 29 runs. Chicago, which is slugging .404 on the season, has totaled 13 doubles in its last four - the same number it tallied in its previous 12 contests.
Anthony Rizzo is 6 for 15 with six RBIs in the last four, though he was 0 for 4 in Thursday's 7-2 win at Milwaukee. He's also hit safely in 10 of 11 interleague games this season, batting .405 with four homers and 17 RBIs, but he was 1 for 10 with five strikeouts in three games versus Seattle as a rookie in 2011, with San Diego.
Though the Cubs own one of the NL's worst records, they're 8-3 against the AL.
Scheduled starter Travis Wood (5-6, 2.85), is looking to end his own three-game skid. He didn't receive a decision his last time out, however, after yielding three runs over six-plus innings in a 4-3 loss to Houston on Saturday.
"I missed bad," Wood said of his pitch to J.D. Martinez, leading to a three-run homer in the sixth. "It was supposed to be back door and ended it up coming all the way across the plate and that just can't happen."
Both Wood and Iwakuma will be making their first starts against their respective opponents. Wood is 2-3 with a 4.01 ERA in eight career starts versus AL teams, while Iwakuma has never made a start against the NL but went 1-0 with a 5.87 ERA over 7 2-3 innings in six relief appearances last year.
|June 15, 2013||David DeJesus||15-Day DL||Right shoulder sprain|
|June 14, 2013||David DeJesus||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right shoulder|
|June 12, 2013||Zach Putnam||15-Day DL||Right elbow soreness|
|June 11, 2013||Zach Putnam||Day-to-Day||Left game - Undisclosed injury|
|May 27, 2013||Kyuji Fujikawa||60-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|May 27, 2013||Rafael Dolis||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|June 24, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||Day-to-Day||Hamstring|
|June 24, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||15-Day DL||Right hamstring strain|
|June 21, 2013||Michael Morse||15-Day DL||Strained right quad|
|June 18, 2013||Michael Morse||Day-to-Day||Sore right quad|
|June 08, 2013||Kendrys Morales||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|June 06, 2013||Jesus Sucre||15-Day DL||Left wrist sprain|
SEATTLE (AP) -- Mike Zunino has been in the big leagues just a little more than two weeks, though any nerves he was feeling walking to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the 10th inning certainly didn't show.
Zunino worked the count full before hitting a single up the middle for the game-winning hit, lifting the Seattle Mariners to a 5-4 win over the Chicago Cubs on Friday night.
Zunino may have looked like a veteran as he worked the at-bat, but that doesn't mean he wasn't feeling the pressure until he saw the ball make it through the infield.
"It was a giant sigh of relief," Zunino said. "Anything you can do to help the team win, that's what I'm all about. I would have taken a sac fly, I would have taken anything in that situation."
Michael Saunders and Raul Ibanez led off the 10th with back-to-back walks before Blake Parker (0-1) was relieved by Shawn Camp . Jason Bay advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt, and Justin Smoak was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out to bring up Zunino.
The rookie catcher was called up to majors on June 11 and was playing in his 11th game. He had a total of one RBI in 37 at-bats before walking to the batter's box in the 10th inning.
After the winning run scored, Zunino's teammates mobbed him at first base in celebration.
"Oh, man. A couple of rib shots, and some slaps on the back, but it's definitely worth it at that point," Zunino said. "Any situation like that, I'll be able to take it."
Yoervis Medina (3-2) pitched the 10th to earn the win. Oliver Perez struck out the side in the ninth, his 12 consecutive scoreless inning pitched.
Alfonso Soriano and Dioner Navarro homered for the Cubs, who ended a two-game winning streak.
Bay hit his ninth home run and Nick Franklin had two doubles among his three hits for the Mariners, who had lost two in a row.
Cubs starter Travis Wood left in position for his first win in five starts after allowing two runs on three hits and striking out six in 6 1-3 innings, but Chicago's bullpen failed, leaving Wood winless since May 30.
"The outcome is the outcome," Wood said. "They played a good game, so did we. We battled, they battled, battled and battled and ended up coming back and winning the game."
The Cubs had a 4-2 lead going into the eighth with James Russell on the mound when Seattle tied the game on Kendrys Morales ' RBI double and Ibanez's run-scoring triple on a line drive that got past sliding left fielder Brian Bogusevic and rolled to the wall.
Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma pitched eight innings, with four runs and six hits allowed. He struck out five. It was the fourth time this season Iwakuma has completed eight innings, and all four times he has come away with a no decision.
"Besides the two home runs I gave up - they were to the fat part of the plate - overall I thought it was good," Iwakuma said through a translator.
The Cubs led 2-1 going into the seventh and added to their lead with a pair of home runs, both coming on the first pitch. Soriano led off with a drive just inside the left field foul pole, his eighth. With two outs Novarro also hit his eighth homer to right-center.
The Cubs took advantage of a throwing error by second baseman Franklin in the second inning to take a 2-0 lead. Soriano led off the inning with a single, and with one out Ryan Sweeney hit a hard grounder down the first-base line that got into the deep right-field corner for a triple. Soriano scored and second baseman Franklin's relay throw home got past catcher Zunino, allowing Sweeney to score on the error and giving the Cubs a 2-0 lead.
The Mariners didn't get a hit until the fourth inning when Franklin led off with a double and didn't score until Bay homered to lead off the fifth. All nine of Bay's home runs this season have been solo shots.
Seattle scored again in the seventh when Brad Miller - making his major league debut after being called up from Triple-A Tacoma before the game - drove in Bay with a fielder's choice.
Miller was 0 for 3 with a walk, RBI and stolen base in the game.
"It was so much fun, just getting out there and running around and playing was pretty sweet," Miller said.
NOTES: Miller was the eighth player to make his MLB debut with Seattle this season. ... Seattle optioned INF Carlos Triunfel to Tacoma and designated INF Alex Liddi for assignment. ... The Mariners started Dustin Ackley at CF for the first time. ... The Cubs have homered in a season-high eight straight games.