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Mariners turn to Iwakuma against Rangers

Sep 5, 2014 - 3:09 PM (Sports Network) - Hisashi Iwakuma goes after a fifth straight winning decision on Friday when the Seattle Mariners continue their four-game series with the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park.

Iwakuma beat the Washington Nationals on Sunday, as he limited them to three runs and five hits in six innings to improve to 13-6 to go along with a 2.90 ERA.

He is 5-1 with a 2.42 ERA (12 earned runs in 44 2/3 innings) over his past seven starts and has 10 quality starts in his past 12 outings. Iwakuma also has 9.77 strikeouts per walk and 0.77 walks per nine innings.

Both of those are the best ratios in Mariners history.

"He's been like this ever since he got here," Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager said. "He throws all of his pitches for strikes."

Texas, meanwhile, will counter with righty Scott Baker, who has won his last two starts and is 3-0 in his last three appearances. After holding Kansas City to a run over five innings back on Aug. 24, Baker yielded just a pair of runs and six hits over 6 1/3 innings to Houston last Friday to improve to 3-3 on the year, while lowering his ERA to 5.23.

He is 3-0 with a 2.37 ERA in two starts and six relief appearances since the All-Star break. He was 0-3 with a 6.24 ERA in four starts and 11 relief appearances in the first half.

"In any new role or position, there is a period of adjustment," Baker said. "It took time getting used to the role I was in. I had a couple of poor outings, but even in the first half I didn't feel that far off. It's just nice to get the results you want. But results are a byproduct of preparing yourself and executing pitches."

Seattle scored early and often in Thursday's opener, as Robinson Cano went 2- for-4 with four RBI to help the Mariners rout the Rangers, 10-2.

The Mariners used a six-run second inning to claim a commanding lead early on as Rangers starter Robbie Ross retired the first two batters in the inning, but was unable to get out of the frame.

"That's the bad part, or frustrating part, having the outing that I had in Houston and then having this happen," Ross said. "It's one of those games where I can look back and see where I could have done some things different."

Roenis Elias (10-12) allowed a run in five innings for the Mariners to end a stretch of three straight losses.

"You stay around by your starters," said Cano. "That's why we are where we are. You got guys that prepare themselves for every five days and give the best chance for us."

Despite the loss on Thursday, Texas still leads the season series, 9-7.