SEATTLE (AP) After the first three batters, it looked like Hisashi Iwakuma's second game back from the disabled list would be another struggle. It turned into one of the strongest starts of his career.
After loading the bases with no outs to start the game, Iwakuma settled down to pitch eight strong innings to lead the Seattle Mariners to a 5-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night.
Iwakuma (1-1) gave up three hits and two walks, and struck out six. He retired the last 13 batters he faced in his longest outing since going eight innings at Philadelphia last Aug. 19. This was the seventh time in Iwakuma's career he had a start of at least eight innings without allowing a run.
''He was tested in that first inning, and I think once you get out of a little rut like that everything seems easier,'' Seattle catcher Mike Zunino said. ''Then you feel like you can just go out there and pitch because the toughest stuff has happened.''
Iwakuma was making his second start since returning from a right lat strain. He was on the disabled list from April 21 to July 6, and in his first start back against the Detroit Tigers he allowed five runs and eight hits in five innings.
Iwakuma got out of the first inning without giving up a run with some defensive help, as Nelson Cruz made a diving catch on David Freese's line drive to right field to end the inning.
''That was the game-changer. It made me feel a lot better,'' Iwakuma said through a translator. ''That gave us the momentum.''
Iwakuma only allowed two more baserunners the rest of the way.
Los Angeles starter C.J. Wilson (7-7) gave up three runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings, walking four and striking out five. It was the ninth time in his last 10 starts that Wilson lasted at least six innings.
Mark Trumbo had two RBI singles for the Mariners, his fourth straight game with at least two hits. He has a seven-game overall hitting streak, and is batting 12 for 22 in that stretch.
Cruz helped at the plate as well as in the field, going 3 for 3 with a double and three runs scored.
''The story of tonight was really I couldn't get Cruz out, you know? That was like the whole thing,'' Wilson said. ''Cruz was the swing guy for me in the lineup today and if I would be able to get him out once in the first couple innings, then the game would turn out a lot differently.''
The Mariners scored twice in the second inning. Jesus Montero drew a bases-loaded walk with no outs and Brad Miller drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Trumbo's run-scoring single in the third gave Seattle a 3-0 lead, and in the seventh, the Mariners picked up two runs after Wilson was replaced on RBI singles by Trumbo and Logan Morrison.
Angels: RHP Jered Weaver (left hip) threw a simulated game Saturday. Weaver, who has been on the DL since June 21, pitched well, manager Mike Scioscia said. ''We're all excited about the direction he's moving,'' Scioscia said. Weaver is expected to throw another simulated game Thursday.
Mariners: CF Austin Jackson was back in the lineup at leadoff after missing two games with back spasms. On Friday, Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said Jackson would have to feel ''great'' to play. ''I believe Austin is going to be just fine,'' McClendon said before the game Saturday.
The ceremonial first pitch was thrown by fan Evelyn Jones, who was celebrating her 108th birthday. According to the Mariners, she is the oldest person ever to throw out the first pitch for a major league game. After her short underhand toss to Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez, the crowd serenaded her by singing ''Happy Birthday.''
Angels: LHP Andrew Heaney (2-0, 1.77 ERA) will make his fourth career start in the final game of the four-game series on Sunday. Heaney has never faced the Mariners, and has allowed just four earned runs in 20 1-3 innings in his previous three starts.
Mariners: RHP Taijuan Walker (7-6, 4.53) is 6-1 with a 2.32 ERA in his last eight starts, and hasn't taken a loss since June 3.