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SEA@CLE: Iwakuma fans six, holds Tribe to two runs

Though Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma has been one of baseball's premier starters for the past two years, one team he hasn't quite solved yet is the Orioles. The 33-year-old will get another shot on Sunday afternoon when the two clubs meet in the series finale at Camden Yards.

Iwakuma is 0-1 with a 5.25 ERA in two starts against Baltimore, including a 4-0 loss just 10 days ago in Seattle.

But Iwakuma is 31-15 with a 2.77 ERA in 66 starts since moving into the Mariners rotation midway through the 2012 season, and he's coming off a strong outing in Cleveland in which he held the Indians to two runs and six hits in seven innings.

Iwakuma did walk one batter in that game, ending a streak of 35 2/3 innings without a base on balls. But his strikeout-to-walk ratio is the best in baseball at 94-to-9 and he's third in the American League with a 0.99 WHIP after missing the first month with a strained finger tendon.

Manager Lloyd McClendon said teams can't sit on Iwakuma's offerings, even when they know he's a steady strike thrower.

"His split is exceptional," McClendon said. "I think at the start of the season, he didn't have a real good command of the fastball or velocity. But now he can throw that fastball to four different quadrants of the strike zone, he's got a little cutter to go with it and mix in his slider/curveball. He throws a lot of strikes, but he gives you a lot of different looks."

Iwakuma hasn't lost a road game in over a year, going 9-0 with a 2.17 ERA in 14 games since July 4, 2013.

"To be honest, I didn't even know about that," Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki. "I don't know what the secret is."

Chris Tillman, who gets the ball for the Orioles, is coming off of back-to-back starts against the Angels. In his last outing, Tillman threw five innings with six strikeouts, six hits and five runs -- three of which were earned.

To O's manager Buck Showalter's relief, Sunday is the last day of the regular season that Tillman and his team will have to face Robinson Cano, who hit a go-ahead three-run home run in the fifth inning on Saturday night.

"I'm glad he's not in New York, where we have to face him 20 times or 18, 19, whatever it is," Showalter said. "For the seven games we play him, you realize that you're really glad he's out there. He's a splendid player. He seems to always be able to dial up what the club needs. I'm real glad he's not in New York. I wish he was in the National League."

Orioles: Davis working through slump
O's first baseman Chris Davis was not in the starting lineup Saturday, but he did pinch-hit in the eighth inning and remained in the game at first.

A year after leading the Majors in home runs, RBIs and total bases and finishing third in AL Most Valuable Player voting, Davis hasn't been able to fix his slump that has seen his batting average plummet to .196 -- the worst it's been since he started the season 0-for-6.

"Chris is working on some things," Showalter said. "He's still coughing up a lot of stuff, not that anybody wants to think about that. He spent a lot of time in the cage today."

Mariners: Hart goes on DL
Veteran outfielder/designated hitter Corey Hart was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday after informing the club his sore knees just weren't responding, as he's been forced to play more in the field since the trade for DH Kendrys Morales 11 days ago.

Hart has hit just .203 with five home runs and 20 RBIs in 58 games while attempting to come back after missing all of last year following microfracture surgery on both knees.

"It's nice to be back and part of a competitive team, and I love the group," Hart said. "But I think I was trying to give myself false hope. The legs were never there. Hopefully they get back sooner than later. I'd love to come back pretty quick and be competitive, but right now I'm not competitive and that's because I haven't had the legs to help me."

Hart said he hopes to return in the final month if he can get healthy. The club now has Morales at DH and added right-handed hitting outfielders Austin Jackson and Chris Denorfia at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, so there is less of a need for his right-handed bat unless he can come back at full strength.

Worth noting
• The Mariners are 51-17 when scoring three or more runs, the fourth-best winning percentage in the Majors. They're 40-10 when scoring four or more runs. But Seattle is last in the AL in scoring at 3.81 runs per game and is 5-36 when scoring two runs or fewer.

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