Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, right, looks away as Oakland Athletics' Yoenis Cespedes rounds the bases on a home run in the first inning of a baseball game on Friday, June 21, 2013, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Saturday, June 22, 2013 2:56 am
Iwakuma loses 2nd straight start to Oakland, 6-3
By DAIMON EKLUNDAssociated Press
The Seattle Mariners pitcher lost his second straight start to the Athletics on Friday night as Yoenis Cespedes hit a pair of two-run homers in a 6-3 win.
Iwakuma (7-3) was unbeaten in his previous nine starts before dropping two in a row to Oakland. This time, the A's used the long ball, hitting three home runs off Iwakuma in his seven innings.
The Mariners have lost three in a row and five of six.
"Overall, I thought I felt pretty good on the mound," Iwakuma 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."
Iwakuma gave up four runs and six hits, struck out six and didn't walk a batter in his first home loss this season. His home ERA rose from 0.92 to 1.46.
"I thought he battled through good tonight," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "He gave us a chance to win the ballgame, he just wasn't quite as sharp with his secondary stuff."
Bartolo Colon (10-2) won his seventh straight start, giving up three runs and seven hits over eight innings to tie unbeaten Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers for most wins in the American League. Colon is 11-1 in his career at Safeco Field, the best record for any pitcher with at least seven decisions in the Mariners' home park.
"His ball moves all over the place," Wedge said. "He knows how to pitch. He recognizes swings. He does as good a job with his fastball, his movement, where it starts and where it finishes, as anybody in the league."
The Mariners did take an early lead on Nick Franklin's three-run homer in the third inning. Franklin's fourth home run marked the first time Colon had allowed a home run or more than two earned runs in a game since May 14, before he started his winning streak.
The homer came after Franklin struck out in the first.
"He just plain beat me. I don't think I was ready for it," Franklin said. "Going into the next at-bat I wasn't going to let anything get by."
Brendan Ryan singled with one out in the third for the Mariners' first hit, and after a single by Endy Chavez, Franklin's fourth home run gave Seattle a 3-2 lead.
"He's up there ready to hunt the baseball," Wedge said of Franklin. "He's playing with no fear. I love that."
For a matchup between two of the American League's top starters, the game was a relative slugfest. Cespedes homered in the first inning and again in the ninth for his third career multihomer game - all this month. Jed Lowrie and Coco Crisp also went deep for the Athletics, who maintained their one-game lead in the AL West over Texas.
Iwakuma had never given up more than two home runs in a game, and it was the first time in 18 career home starts he allowed more than one homer.
"We really didn't get a whole lot of hits off of him," Lowrie said. "We were able to get those big homers, that's the only way we scored off him."
Cespedes gave Oakland a two-run lead in the first inning with a shot that bounced off the upper-deck railing above the left field out-of-town scoreboard. It wasn't the first big hit Cespedes has had against Iwakuma - he is 6 for 15 with three homers against the Mariners' starter.
Lowrie tied the game with a leadoff homer in the fourth, and Crisp pushed Oakland ahead with his solo drive that just cleared the right-field wall in the sixth.
The Mariners were hurt by a baserunning blunder in the sixth. After a leadoff single, Kyle Seager was thrown out trying to take two bases on a passed ball. Kendrys Morales' single and Raul Ibanez's walk gave Seattle two on with one out, but the Mariners were unable to push a run across.
Oakland added two insurance runs in the ninth off reliever Tom Wilhelmsen. Lowrie led off with a single and Cespedes followed with another homer to left field, his 15th of the season.
Grant Balfour pitched the ninth for his 18th save this season and 36th in a row dating to May 5, 2012.
NOTES: Seattle promoted pitching prospect Taijuan Walker to Triple-A Tacoma. Walker, the Mariners' top pick in the 2010 draft, was 4-7 with a 2.46 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 14 starts for Double-A Jackson. ... Two of Seattle's 2013 draft picks, Austin Wilson (second round) and Lachlan Fontaine (13th), took batting practice before the game.