PHOENIX -- Hisashi Iwakuma continued his quest to earn a spot in the Mariners' starting rotation on Friday night.

Iwakuma was charged with five runs, three of which were earned, on seven hits in four innings in the 6-1 loss to the A's at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. He walked one batter and struck out three.

"For the rotation, I need a better effort to get the results," Iwakuma said through interpreter Daisuke Sekiba. "There is a lot I need to work on."

Iwakuma is right. The right-hander is competing with Blake Beavan, Hector Noesi, Kevin Millwood, and Erasmo Ramirez for one of the three spots in the rotation remaining behind Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas. The Mariners signed him to a one-year deal out of Japan.

"He's right there with everybody else," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "I felt like he was better today. He was down and he did a better job of mixing up his pitches as the game wore on, and that's what we're looking to see."

Iwakuma lasted just one inning in his Cactus League debut against the Padres, throwing 35 pitches and giving up three hits. He looked much better in his second start, a 52-pitch effort against the Dodgers that saw him give up four hits and two runs.

Against the A's, Iwakuma allowed four runs on four hits, including two doubles, in the first inning. He pitched two scoreless frames before allowing another run in the fourth.

"I think if you look at his last few outings, he has had better stuff and he's staying down in the zone," Wedge said. "He still needs to move forward [with] regards to his total game, but we've seen some good indicators."

Iwakuma said he had better results in the later innings by throwing more curveballs and elevating pitches to keep the hitters off balance. He added that he feels like he is pitching better each time he takes the mound, and said the problem on Friday was not the quality of his pitches, as much as it was his pitching sequence.

Additionally, Iwakuma, who missed several months last year with arm problems, said health is not an issue.

"No problem," he said in English.

Liddi, Ackley stay hot in Cactus League play

PHOENIX -- Alex Liddi is still heating up in the desert.

Liddi went 3-for-5 with a home run and two RBIs in the Mariners' 6-1 victory against the Brewers on Friday in Tucson, Ariz. Overall, he is hitting .435 with four doubles, one home run and six RBIs, with a .739 slugging percentage in 11 Cactus League games.

"Spring Training has been pretty good, so far. Everybody is playing good and having fun," Liddi said. "Everybody is doing their job, so it's been nice and easy."

Dustin Ackley also shined in Tucson, going 3-for-3 in the game against Milwaukee. He is hitting .370 so far in Cactus League play.

Ackley's three doubles would have tied a regular-season club record. Twenty-two different Mariners have hit three doubles in a game. Kyle Seager last accomplished the feat on Aug. 24, 2011.

Worth noting

• A crowd of 7,036 showed up for the first of three scheduled Spring Training games in Tucson, Ariz.

Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium is the former Spring Training home of the D-backs and White Sox, who now train in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Glendale, Ariz., respectively.

"It's a good thing you get to bring a few games down here for the fans [in] Tucson," Wedge said. "It's been a part of Spring Training for a long time. It's not that way anymore. But it's nice to still come down here and play a few games."

• Outfielder Daniel Carroll lost a ball in the sun hit by Milwaukee's Brooks Conrad in the seventh inning. The ball fell in for a double, eventually leading to the Brewers' lone run in the game. Wedge said the ball struck Carroll's glove and hit his jaw, but Carroll was fine.

• Closer Brandon League turned 29 on Friday.