Leadoff homer enough to beat M’s

BALTIMORE — One mistake to the first batter of the game cost Hisashi Iwakuma a chance at a win.

One mistake to the first batter of the game shouldn’t dictate the outcome for the Mariners.

Unfortunately for Iwakuma and the Mariners, that one mistake to the first batter of the game was one too many in a 1-0 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

Iwakuma gave up a home run to Nick Markakis on the seventh pitch of the game, and that was the only run the Orioles needed on a muggy Sunday at Camden Yards.

From there, Iwakuma allowed just four hits, while striking out seven and walking two, finally exiting with two outs in the eighth inning. It was an outstanding performance unworthy of a defeat. It was the first time in Orioles’ team history they have won a game 1-0 on a leadoff homer. It was the first time in Mariners’ team history they’ve lost a game in that manner.

“First inning, first hitter, that cost me the whole game,” Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki. “Today is a game as a starter, you don’t want to lose, you want to win.”

The pitch to Markakis was a 3-2 split-finger fastball that just stayed a little up in the zone. He was able to crush it over the wall in right field. It was his first career leadoff home run.

“Well, you don’t want to walk the guy,” Iwakuma said. “So obviously you want to throw a strike and he put a good swing on it.”

His catcher, Mike Zunino, was thinking the same way.

“I would have liked it down a little bit more, he left it up a hair,” he said. “But we both had the idea that we didn’t want to walk him. He just left it up a little bit.”

It was the first of three hits Markakis had off Iwakuma.

The loss snapped Iwakuma’s nine-game road winning streak, which dated to 2013.

Still Lloyd McClendon wouldn’t allow Iwakuma to wear the loss for one bad pitch, not when his offense managed just four hits and a walk.

“I don’t think one pitch will win or lose a ballgame for you,” he said. “There are several things that go on over the course of game where you didn’t execute or they executed better that cause you to lose the game.”

Orioles starter and one-time Mariners’ prospect Chris Tillman was just as good, tossing seven shutout innings, allowing four hits and striking out six with no walks.

After looking competent and productive on Saturday night, the Mariners’ offense returned to its non-hitting ways.

“It was a tough ballgame,” McClendon said. “Our guys battled. We barreled up some balls but they were just right at them. It’s just the way it goes. He threw a good ballgame, he wasn’t overpowering. We put the ball in play. We just didn’t find holes.”

Seattle had just one runner get into scoring position. In the second inning, Kyle Seager led off with a single to right and Logan Morrison’s one-out single moved him to third base. But with runners on first and third, Tillman struck out Zunino and Brad Miller to end the inning.

“I had a shot at it and I just didn’t get the job done with a runner on third and less than two outs,” Zunino said. “It wasn’t good situational hitting there.”

From there the Mariners, did little against Tillman (9-6). He retired 14 of the next 15 batters he faced. In six career starts against Seattle — the team that drafted him out of high school in Fountain Valley, Calif., Tillman is 6-0 with a 2.03 earned-run average.

Hard-throwing lefties Andrew Miller and Zach Britton closed out the game, each pitching a shutout inning.

It was the 14th time the Mariners were shutout this season — the most in the American League.


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