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Paxton blanks Tigers for 7 as Mariners roll

MLB.com

DETROIT -- James Paxton shut down a Tigers offense that put up 32 runs over its previous two games, allowing Guillermo Heredia's two-run homer in a three-run second inning to put Seattle in command for an 8-0 win on Wednesday at Comerica Park.

Paxton (3-0) won the battle of stingy lefties over Daniel Norris by punchouts, racking up called third strikes on three of Detroit's first five hitters before fanning four in a row in the fourth and fifth innings. His seven innings marked his fourth scoreless outing in five starts this season, and a rebound from the five runs he yielded to the A's in his last start.

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DETROIT -- James Paxton shut down a Tigers offense that put up 32 runs over its previous two games, allowing Guillermo Heredia's two-run homer in a three-run second inning to put Seattle in command for an 8-0 win on Wednesday at Comerica Park.

Paxton (3-0) won the battle of stingy lefties over Daniel Norris by punchouts, racking up called third strikes on three of Detroit's first five hitters before fanning four in a row in the fourth and fifth innings. His seven innings marked his fourth scoreless outing in five starts this season, and a rebound from the five runs he yielded to the A's in his last start.

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After losing, 19-9, on Tuesday night and losing Felix Hernandez and Mitch Haniger to injuries, Paxton said it was important to come back strong as the Mariners won just their third road game in 13 outings.

With latest gem, Paxton rising to ace status

Video: SEA@DET: Paxton fans nine over seven shutout innings

"Obviously that was a terrible game, and the injuries to Felix and Haniger were probably the toughest part of it," Paxton said. "Those are two of our main guys and to have them go down was really hard. But we've got guys who are going to have to step up and we did a great job tonight. Hopefully we can keep that going."

By contrast, a 29-pitch first inning set the tone for the Mariners against Norris (1-2). He stranded the bases loaded that inning, but fell behind hitters for much of his night. He paid for a 3-2 slider that Heredia lined over the fence in left for a 3-0 lead, then left after loading the bases with a Robinson Cano double, Nelson Cruz walk and Taylor Motter single to begin the fifth.

"He had trouble repeating his delivery, repeating the location of the pitches," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Pitch count got up early. They didn't score a bunch of runs off of him, but his pitch count got up so high that it kind of spelled the end."

Inefficiency continues to plague Norris

Video: SEA@DET: Ausmus on loss to Mariners, lineup struggles

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Heredia waits for his chance: Heredia saw four sliders from Norris during that momentous second-inning at-bat, but didn't swing until the fourth, taking two pitches to run the count full with two outs. Unlike the first three sliders, Norris left the fourth up and over the plate enough for Heredia to turn on it. The rookie left fielder has assumed a starting role in the past week and now is hitting second with Haniger going on the disabled list.

"Getting regular at-bats makes me feel more comfortable and my confidence is at a higher level. I'm going to try to continue hard and see where it takes me," Heredia said through interpreter Manny Acta.

Paxton punchouts: The Tigers had a couple of opportunities to get to Paxton, putting two runners on with one out in the second and fourth innings. Paxton stranded runners at second and third with a strikeout of James McCann and a Dixon Machado groundout in the second, then fanned John Hicks and McCann with runners on first and second in the fourth.

Video: SEA@DET: Paxton retires runners on 2nd and 3rd

QUOTABLE
"Huge difference. Literally every time he walks up there you think he's going to get a hit. He believes it. He's got the right mentality for it. There's so many different pitches he can hit. It's nice to have him back." -- Mariners manager Scott Servais, on shortstop Jean Segura, who had three hits and is 6-for-12 in two games since coming off the DL

Video: DET@SEA: Servais discusses Paxton's strong outing

"He was nasty. He threw 98 [mph], 97, locating inside and away, using his offspeed. He was on. The guy was good." -- Victor Martinez, on Paxton

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Cruz has officially heated up for the Mariners as the big designated hitter went 2-for-4 and launched a two-run homer in the sixth. He's 12-for-23 with three homers and 11 RBIs in his past seven games, raising his average from .218 to .308.

Video: SEA@DET: Cruz lifts a deep two-run homer to left

Wednesday marked the ninth time in Norris' Major League career that he has topped 100 pitches in a start. Four times, he has done so without recording an out in the sixth inning.

Video: SEA@DET: Norris escapes a bases-loaded jam

WHAT'S NEXT
Mariners: Veteran right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (0-2, 5.31 ERA) will be looking for his first win in Thursday's 10:10 a.m. PT rubber game at Comerica Park. The 36-year-old is 2-2 with a 3.47 ERA in eight games (seven starts) against the Tigers.

Tigers: Justin Verlander (1-2, 6.04) takes the mound in Thursday's 1:10 p.m. ET series finale searching for a bounceback performance after giving up 13 runs on 14 hits and seven walks in his past two starts, both losses in which he didn't record an out in the sixth.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.

Nelson Cruz, Guillermo Heredia, Daniel Norris, James Paxton