Baseball / Sports

Seattle Mariners' Robinson Cano tags out Kansas City Royals Alex Gordon to end the top of the 7th inning on Thursday, May 8, 2014, in Seattle. (Dean Rutz/Seattle Times/MCT)

Mariners blank the Royals

SEATTLE -- Hisashi Iwakuma was brilliant in his first home start of the year, and the Mariners' brilliant brand of baseball continued in their return to Safeco Field.

Iwakuma threw eight shutout innings, allowing just four singles and striking out seven, to lead the Mariners to a 1-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday night in the opener of a seven-game homestand.

The Mariners (18-16) returned home from a nine-game trip to New York, Houston and Oakland with a 7-2 record in that stretch.

The Seattle offense didn't generate much against Royals left-hander Danny Duffy, but the one run was enough for Iwakuma, who missed most of the first month of the season while recovering from a strained finger tendon on his throwing hand.

Iwakuma (2-0) allowed four runs in 62/3 innings in his first start of the season Saturday at Houston.

He was much better Thursday. He allowed just the four singles, and no walks, on 93 pitches, and no Kansas City runner got past first base.

Iwakuma has pitched 482/3 consecutive scoreless innings against teams in the AL Central.

Fernando Rodney earned his 10th save for the Mariners -- but not before another dramatic ninth inning.

Rodney walked the Royals' No. 9 hitter, Alcides Escobar, on four pitches to open the ninth. After a sacrifice bunt, he then walked Hosmer on five pitches, bringing up the heart of the Royals' lineup with two on and one out.

But Rodney got Billy Butler, the No. 3 hitter, swinging at an 0-2 changeup in the dirt for the second out, and Salvador Perez grounded into a fielder's choice to end it.

The Mariners have won 11 of 14 overall.

The Mariners scored their only run in the third inning. Mike Zunino hit Duffy's first pitch of the inning -- a 92 mph fastball -- off the wall in left-center for a stand-up double. Michael Saunders followed with a sacrificed bunt to move Zunino to third. After Stefen Romero struck out, the Royals intentionally walked Robinson Cano -- in a lefty-lefty match up -- to bring up the Mariners' cleanup hitter, right-handed hitter Corey Hart.

Hart came through with a sharp, two-out single to score Zunino, giving the Mariners the only run they would need.

Duffy allowed one run on two hits in six-plus innings, with four strikeouts and three walks. He was pulled after plunking Kyle Seager to start the bottom of the seventh.

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