Joe Blanton may be tied for the major league lead in losses, but he's pitched better over his last five outings than Iwakuma has in the same span.
Both starters allowed six runs in shaky efforts their last time out and will meet Sunday when the Mariners try for their first three-game home sweep of the Angels in eight seasons.
Iwakuma (7-4, 2.97 ERA) has been close to or at the top of the AL in ERA through most of the season while Blanton (2-11, 5.40) owns the majors' third-worst ERA. Yet this may not be the pitching mismatch it appears to be based on that alone.
Iwakuma is 0-3 with a 6.83 ERA over his last five outings. The six runs allowed by the All-Star on Tuesday came in the shortest start of his career, a three-inning stint in which he escaped without a decision in an 11-8 loss to Boston.
"I think my pitches are catching too much of the plate the last couple of starts," Iwakuma said through a translator. "I need to work on that."
Blanton lasted five-plus innings in Tuesday's 7-2 defeat to the Chicago Cubs . His ERA in his last five starts is 4.26.
"It was just one of those games," said Blanton, who had a 3.04 ERA over his previous four starts. "I tried to battle through, but I made too many mistakes over the plate."
The right-hander allowed a season-worst four homers and has given up a major league high-tying 22.
He'll be up against a Seattle team that has homered five times in this series to extend its club record for consecutive games with at least one to 21. That's the longest by an AL team since Texas set the major league record with 27 straight in 2002.
"Everybody has been busting our chops on offense and rightfully so but I think you've got to give these kids kudos for that," manager Eric Wedge said.
Blanton is 0-1 with a 3.55 ERA in two 2013 starts against the Mariners.
Seattle (42-52) last swept three at home from Los Angeles (44-48) from Sept. 12-14, 2005. The Mariners have to like their chances if Iwakuma can duplicate his past results against the Angels.
Iwakuma has beaten Los Angeles more than any team, going 4-0 with a 1.11 ERA in five starts. He has struck out 22 and never allowed an earned run in 19 1-3 innings at home versus the Angels.
Pujols is 3 for 23 at Safeco Field this year and Hamilton is 4 for 24. Neither has gone deep.
The Mariners, meanwhile, have outhomered the Angels 10-3 in winning five of six at home. Raul Ibanez is 5 for 8 with two homers in this series.
Justin Smoak had the game's only homer Saturday and drove in four runs in a 6-0 victory.
|Los Angeles Angels|
|June 30, 2013||Peter Bourjos||15-Day DL||Nondisplaced bone fracture, right wrist|
|June 29, 2013||Peter Bourjos||Day-to-Day||Left game - right wrist|
|June 23, 2013||Peter Bourjos||Day-to-Day||Left game - left thumb injury|
|June 21, 2013||Tommy Hanson||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|June 21, 2013||Josh Hamilton||Day-to-Day||Right wrist soreness|
|June 18, 2013||Jason Vargas||15-Day DL||Blood clot, left arm|
|July 11, 2013||Nick Franklin||Day-to-Day||Left game - knee soreness|
|July 11, 2013||Endy Chavez||Day-to-Day||Left game - groin tightness|
|June 29, 2013||Dustin Ackley||Day-to-Day||Left game - thumb|
|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|
SEATTLE (AP) -- Hisashi Iwakuma kept his pitches down and the ball in the ballpark. Most of the time.
Iwakuma (8-4) allowed a solo home run to Mark Trumbo , but kept the Angels to three runs over seven innings as Seattle completed its first sweep of the season by beating the Los Angeles Angels 4-3 Sunday.
It was an improvement on a lousy month by the Mariners All-Star, who had allowed at least four runs in each of his previous five starts and 10 home runs over his last four outings.
"He was good. Just a couple bad misses but he was downhill better. He executed pitches better," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.
Following his previous outing - his shortest of the season allowing six runs in three innings against Boston - Iwakuma noted some minor mechanical adjustments he needed to fix to get back on track. Against the Angels, Iwakuma had a better feel for his fastball and was able to mix in his breaking pitches more effectively.
He struck out seven for his first win since June 10.
"Today, overall, I thought I had a better fastball. I had more life with my fastball," Iwakuma said through a translator. "I was able to make an adjustment. I gave up one home run but then overall I thought I had better command than I did the last couple of starts."
The day didn't go nearly as well for Angels starter Joe Blanton .
Blanton (2-12) left the game after allowing the first three runners to reach base in the fifth inning. His four innings pitched was the shortest outing of an already tumultuous season and Blanton appeared to snap in the dugout after coming off the mound in the fourth. Blanton attacked a water cooler and threw it to the ground and appeared to engage in a verbal altercation with catcher Chris Iannetta .
Iannetta called it "a miscommunication" but wouldn't elaborate on the incident. Blanton was also mum on specifics but chalked it up to frustration.
"Any time things aren't going good it kind of brings things to a little volcano, a little head, whatever you want to call it," Blanton said.
"Things aren't going well. You try and do more out there competing with everything. Things happen. Guys get mad at giving up runs, striking out. It's part of it sometimes."
Michael Saunders hit a two-run homer and Raul Ibanez had an RBI double as the Mariners topped Los Angeles for the third straight day.
The Mariners have now homered in 22 consecutive games, the longest streak in the majors since Atlanta's 23-game run in 2006. Seattle's string is the best by an AL club since Texas set the big league record with 27 in 2002.
Seattle's long-dormant offense has come alive in recent weeks. They currently lead the majors for home runs in July and are second in batting average and runs scored for the month.
"We're doing our jobs. We're getting runners in from third base. We're moving runners over." Saunders said. The biggest thing that was lacking was we were taking our walks, we were getting into scoring position but we were missing the two-out hits or the ball in the gap and that's what we're starting to do. We're driving the ball more."
Tom Wilhelmsen pitched a perfect ninth inning for his 19th save of the season.
Saunders connected in the second off Joe Blanton (2-12) after Justin Smoak singled. Kyle Seager singled and Smoak walked to lead off the fourth, and a sacrifice fly by Mike Zunino made it 3-0.
Trumbo hit his 21st homer in fifth to put the Angels on the board.
Brad Miller singled, Nick Franklin walked and Ibanez doubled to open the fifth and chase Blanton from the game. Michael Kohn entered and struck out the side to limit the damage for the Angels
Los Angeles rallied in the sixth. Alberto Callaspo hit a two-out single with the bases loaded to score Mike Trout and Howie Kendrick as the Angels pulled within a run.
NOTES: Mariners RHP Stephen Pryor will begin a rehab assignment with Single-A Everett either Monday or Tuesday of this week. He has been on the disabled list since April 15 with a torn back muscle. ... Blanton leads the league in losses (12), hits allowed (148) and home runs allowed (23). ... Mariners 3B Kyle Seager extended his hitting streak to 14 games. Since June 30 Seager is batting .442 with two doubles, five home runs, 10 RBI, eight walks and 16 runs scored. ... Angels CF Mike Trout extended his hitting streak to 10 games. He's batting .417 with four doubles, two triples, two home runs, six RBI, five walks and eight runs scored since July 3. ... Angels 2B Alberto Callaspo extended his hitting streak to nine games. ... Iwakuma is not expected to pitch in the All-Star game Tuesday.