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CWS@SEA: Iwakuma hurls eight scoreless frames vs. Sox

Quick: Who leads the Mariners in quality starts this season?

Ace Felix Hernandez logged his 10th on Sunday against the Yankees, but he still trails Hisashi Iwakuma, who has 11 quality starts.

The 32-year old Iwakuma has been a very pleasant surprise for Seattle this season, and he'll make his 30th career start as the Mariners host the Astros on Monday. It will be the final series of the Mariners' 10-game homestand.

Iwakuma is working on a scoreless streak of 21 2/3 innings, but Seattle will need to score more runs than it did during his previous outing if it hopes to win.

The offense didn't score until extra frames of an eventual 7-5 loss to the White Sox in 16 innings his last time out. But Iwakuma, whose 1.94 ERA ranks second among starters in the American League and 0.83 WHIP is an AL-best, didn't place blame on the bats.

"At the same time, I went through a lot of tough situations, too, so just doing my role, doing my job was all I had in mind," Iwakuma said after the game through translator Antony Suzuki.

In eight shutout innings, Iwakuma (6-1) struck out five batters, didn't walk any and surrendered just three hits.

"He was in control the entire day and just did a fantastic job," manager Eric Wedge said. "I think when you talk about consistency with the delivery and stuff, he's done a fantastic job with that all year."

Houston will counter with southpaw Dallas Keuchel, who will make his seventh start since joining the rotation on May 10.

Keuchel pitched out of the bullpen the first five weeks of the season, but he's fared adequately since the move. He only has one clunker of a start, a loss to the Athletics on May 26, in which he gave up six runs in six innings.

Besides that start, Keuchel hasn't given up more than four earned runs in any start, and has limited opponents to two or fewer earned runs in three of his six starts.

The Astros are 4-2 in his six starts.

Keuchel's pitching also mirrors the starting staff as a whole recently. Houston is last in the Majors with a 5.03 staff ERA, but the starters have been solid over the last three weeks.

Collectively, the starting staff has pitched to a 3.29 ERA in 24 games dating May 15.

Mariners: June offers home cooking
Seattle has struggled on the road this season, going 11-21 in 32 contests away from Safeco Field. The Mariners had just nine home games in the month of May. And in part because of geography and their schedule, they've traveled more miles than any other team in baseball this season.

But June is giving the Mariners a chance to play more games in front of their home fans. This 10-game homestand, which concludes with three games against the Astros, is part of a June stretch in which the Mariners play 18 of 27 at home.

Astros: Backstops who can hit
Carlos Corporan went 1-for-4 in Sunday's loss to the Royals and is now hitting .329/.402/.534.

He's not the only Astros catcher doing damage with the lumber. Jason Castro is hitting .324 since May 18 with five home runs and 10 RBIs in that span, raising his season average to .266.

Combined, Astros catchers entered Sunday's game with Kansas City hitting .297, the second-best batting average for backstops in the American League.

Worth noting
• Iwakuma lost to the Astros on the road in his only previous outing versus the club.

• If Iwakuma can hold the Astros scoreless for 6 2/3 innings, he'll break Chris Sale's record this season for consecutive scoreless frames (28).

• Kyle Seager walked twice on Sunday against the Yankees and extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a ninth-inning single off of Mariano Rivera.

• The Astros hit a collective .375 with nine doubles and eight home runs in their last trip to Safeco Field. Houston scored 24 runs and won two of three. Comments