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Hisashi Iwakuma and Hiroki Kuroda earn 10th victories

SEATTLE – Hisashi Iwakuma allowed four hits in six shutout innings, and the Seattle Mariners scored six runs in the second en route to an 8-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night.

Iwakuma (10-4), who won his third straight decision, struck out nine and walked one. Since moving into the starting rotation on July 2, 2012, Iwakuma has gone 18-8 with a 2.78 ERA in 38 starts.

Against the Twins, Iwakuma is 4-0 and hasn’t allowed an earned run in 26⅔ consecutive innings over his four starts. He has held the Twins to a .168 batting average with eight walks and 24 strikeouts.

“I don’t know if I’m good against them in general, but I was able to pitch down in the zone, get ahead on the first pitch and just be aggressive with the fastball,” Iwakuma said.

The Mariners matched their season high with three errors along with two more fumbles that were ruled hits. But Iwakuma picked up the defense each time and worked out of jams.

“Stuff like that happens in a game in a long season,” Iwakuma said through an interpreter. “You have to see how much you can cover up as a pitcher. That’s what I have in mind.”

Nick Franklin made one of the errors at second base.

“It’s definitely in the back of your mind. You do take it personally,” Franklin said. “He (Iwakuma) did a great job, a hell of a job the whole entire game. If the defense made a little more plays we could have gotten him out of the innings earlier.”

One of the critical innings was the third when the Twins loaded the bases with one out on two singles and an error by Kyle Seager at third. But Iwakuma struck out Trevor Plouffe and got Clete Thomas to bounce out to second.

Yankees 2, Twins 0

In Arlington, Texas, Hiroki Kuroda pitched seven scoreless innings, Mariano Rivera got more retirement gifts before posting another save and New York blanked the Rangers to split the four-game series.

Kuroda (10-6) scattered six hits, striking out three and walking one. He is 3-0 with a 0.69 ERA in four July starts.

“I wasn’t pitching very well in the beginning,” Kuroda said. “I thought it was going to be a rough outing.

“I didn’t feel that any particular pitch was working well, but through pitch selection and mixing things up I was able to manage.”

With his 10th victory of the year, Kuroda becomes the first Japanese pitcher ever to record four consecutive seasons with double-digit wins in the major leagues.

Hideo Nomo recorded 10 or more wins in three consecutive seasons twice — doing so from 1995-97 and 2001-03.

“Considering all the great pitchers who have come to the majors from Japan, I am really happy to be the first (to reach this milestone),” Kuroda said. “I consider it a great honor.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi praised Kuroda’s consistency after the game.

“(Kuroda) has been a constant in our rotation for two years,” Girardi said told reporters.

via Iwakuma, Kuroda earn 10th victories | The Japan Times.


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