ANAHEIM -- Hisashi Iwakuma has been the Mariners best -- and healthiest -- starter all season long and the veteran right-hander did his part again Thursday night, though he didn't get much help as Seattle dropped a 6-4 decision to the Angels.On a night the Mariners desperately needed their starter
ANAHEIM -- Hisashi Iwakuma has been the Mariners best -- and healthiest -- starter all season long and the veteran right-hander did his part again Thursday night, though he didn't get much help as Seattle dropped a 6-4 decision to the Angels.
On a night the Mariners desperately needed their starter to go deep into the game to protect a bullpen that went through nearly all of its arms in Wednesday's 4-3 victory, Iwakuma pitched seven solid innings while allowing six hits and three runs (two earned).
Though he didn't get the win, he earned the continued admiration of his manager and teammates.
"He knew when he took the mound tonight he was going to go deep," manager Scott Servais said. "He did kind of what he always does for us. We needed to score a few more runs for him, but he kept it right in there."
Said catcher Mike Zunino: "Especially the way our bullpen has been getting used lately, this was a huge start for him. He saved those guys at the back end of the bullpen today and it was huge for him to do that."
It just didn't add up to a victory as an unearned run in the first following an error on Wednesday's defensive hero, Kyle Seager, put Iwakuma in an early 2-1 hole. But the only other run he allowed came on a solo homer by rookie catcher Jett Bandy in the fifth, which interrupted a string of 12 consecutive outs.
"My last start in Oakland, I only went 5 1/3," Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki. "So knowing the bullpen was worn out from yesterday's game, I wanted to stay as long as I could, seven innings at the least. So I was very happy I did that. But I wanted to give my team a chance to win and I didn't make that happen. The home run cost me."
The Mariners are 16-9 in games pitched by Iwakuma, who is the only starter who has stayed in the rotation the entire season. They are 48-47 when anyone else has started.
The Angels were certainly happy to come away with a win as Iwakuma is now 8-4 with a 2.85 ERA in 17 career games against the AL West rivals.
"He kept us off-balance, like he usually does," said Mike Trout, who went 0-for-2 with a walk against Iwakuma. "We got some hits when we needed them, then Bandy hit that home run."
The loss puts Iwakuma's record at 14-8 with a 3.78 ERA. The 35-year-old has been outstanding of late, with a 3-1 mark and 1.69 ERA over his last four starts. He's 13-4 with a 3.51 mark in 17 starts since May 20, which is the most wins in the Majors in that span.
As an indication of how he's been able to consistently go deep into games, the 17 straight decisions is also the longest active streak in MLB and the most by a Mariners starter since Erik Hanson's 17 in a row in 1992.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter [
@GregJohnsMLB]() and listen to his podcast.