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HOU@SEA: Iwakuma goes seven strong innings in win

Runs should be hard to come by in Sunday's series finale between the Mariners and A's at Coliseum.

On the hill for Seattle will be right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, who hasn't allowed an earned run in 28 2/3 innings. Meanwhile, right-hander Bartolo Colon gets the nod for the A's, accumulating a 0.31 ERA in his last 29 innings pitched.

In Iwakuma's last start against the Astros, he allowed just one unearned run on four hits in seven innings for his seventh win of the season.

Iwakuma (7-1, 1.79 ERA) hasn't taken a loss since April 23 and has a minuscule 2.14 ERA since last year's All-Star break, the lowest ERA of any American League starter during that stretch.

"He's been about as consistent as any pitcher in baseball, and for quite a while now," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said after his last start.

Colon (8-2, 2.92 ERA) has been just as unstoppable, going 5-0 with a 0.75 ERA in 36 innings of work over his last five starts. The winning streak is his longest since April 21-May 17, 2007, when he also won five straight.

The right-hander has also allowed just one run in his last 31 innings and hasn't lost a game since May 9.

On Tuesday against the Yankees, he tossed six innings, allowing just three hits. However, the right-hander did walk four batters, matching the amount allowed in his first nine starts.

"His ball moves," Yankees catcher Chris Stewart said after the game. "It does different things at different times. Sometimes it's going more side to side, sometimes it's going more down. He's tough. He uses both sides of the plate, he doesn't really throw the same pitch twice. He just keeps you off balance."

Mariners: Smoak inching toward return
• The possibility of Justin Smoak returning to the Mariners from a Triple-A rehab stint for the second half of Seattle's road trip against the Angels starting Monday is likely, Wedge said Saturday.

"I don't want to lock myself into anything just yet," Wedge said, adding that he'd discuss further with Rainiers interim manager John Stearns before making a decision.

Dustin Ackley could also see a return in the near future if his success with the Rainiers continues. Ackley was demoted to Triple-A after hitting just .205 in the first two months of the season, but has thrived with a .412 batting average in Tacoma.

A's: Donaldson, Crisp back in action
• Josh Donaldson and Coco Crisp both returned to the A's lineup for Saturday's contest against the Mariners.

Donaldson, who suffered a right hamstring cramp in Thursday's 18-inning marathon, missed Friday because of the injury. Crisp, returning from a sore right heel, was out of action in two of the last three games.

"I think it was important to give them a full day off yesterday," manager Bob Melvin said on Saturday. "I think it is key you don't try to overextend somebody. Our training staff is very good about evaluating those types of things, being vocal about when they think a guy needs a day off or when they need to get out of a game. They're really good about that, trying to catch those things and nip them before they become a bigger problem."

Donaldson went 0-for-4 in Saturday's game, while Crisp went 2-for-4.

Worth noting
• Newly acquired catcher Henry Blanco made his first start for the Mariners on Saturday against the A's, catching Felix Hernandez. Starting off on the right foot, he hit a grand slam in the sixth inning.

• When the A's score first, they are 24-12 this season. Comments