Seattle improved to 54-52 on the season by beating Boston at Safeco Field. New Mariners closer Edwin Diaz made it through a wild ninth inning for his second save.

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Of the 14 other teams in the American League, no group of hitters gives Hisashi Iwakuma more trouble than the Boston Red Sox. Iwakuma came into the game with a career 8.59 ERA in five career starts against David Ortiz and Co., giving up 21 runs in 22 innings.

But he exorcised some of those demons Wednesday night against baseball’s best offense. Iwakuma tossed 71/3 shutout innings, giving up five hits with seven strikeouts and no walks while getting three solo home runs of support in Seattle’s 3-1 victory over the Red Sox.

The Mariners improved to 54-52 on the season.


Boston @ M’s, 7:10 p.m., ROOT Sports

“Kuma was outstanding tonight,” manager Scott Servais said. “It might have been one of his best outings of the year. After a rough one in Chicago, we got him out of there early hoping he would bounce back and he certainly did.”

Using pinpoint command with his lively fastball and diving splitfinger, Iwakuma changed eye levels and kept Sox hitters off balance all night.

“I was able to command my fastball,” he said through his interpreter, Antony Suzuki. “It had more life than usual.”

Iwakuma didn’t give up an extra-base hit and didn’t allow a runner to reach second base while improving to 12-7.

“In general, I needed to make a lot of adjustments from my prior start against the Cubs,” he said. “I didn’t have good arm action, my balance wasn’t good with my pitching form. I did a lot of work in the weight room.”

But this success against the Red Sox was also about how he attacked their hitters. It started earlier this season in his previous start at Fenway Park. On June 17, Iwakuma led the Mariners to an 8-4 win, pitching seven innings, giving up three runs on seven hits. All three runs came on solo homers.

“They’ve hit me pretty well in the past, but the last time I faced them in Boston, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do,” he said. “I looked at the video with what they were doing recently and we had a good meeting with (Mike) Zunino before the game and it paid off.”

The plan wasn’t complicated.

“There were a lot of lefties in there and he sort of wanted to use the inside part of the plate,” Zunino said.

The Mariners mustered just four hits on the night against Red Sox starter Rick Porcello (14-3). Porcello pitched eight innings, giving up three runs with a walk and eight strikeouts. But three of those four hits landed in the outfield seats of Safeco Field to provide all the offense the Mariners would need.

In the second inning, Nelson Cruz hammered a 1-1 fastball into the upper deck of left field. It was his 27th homer of the season. MLB Statcast put the distance at 441 feet, exiting the bat at 112 mph.

“Mike’s was hit harder,” joked Cruz.

That reference was to the Mariners’ second hit, which came in the sixth. Leading off, Zunino got a 0-1 fastball at the belt and drove it over the wall in dead-center for his fifth homer of the season to make it 2-0. Statcast had it at 427 feet and registering 108 mph off the bat.

“I was able to get a sinker over the middle of the plate and use the big part of the field with it,” he said.

The third hit came with two outs in the seventh inning. Adam Lind sat on a 2-0 changeup and yanked it into the seats for his 16th homer of the season. The third solo blast made it, yep, 3-0.

Working in his second save opportunity and his fourth game in five days, reliever Edwin Diaz fought through some mild drama. After blowing a 99 mph fastball by Ortiz for a swinging strikeout to start the ninth, Diaz gave up a single to Jackie Bradley Jr. and hit Aaron Hill with a pitch, meaning the tying run would come to the plate at least once. A wild pitch moved the runners up a base.

“I was pulling my front shoulder and rushing,” Diaz said. “It was just my mechanics.”

The Mariners allowed Bradley to score on Travis Shaw’s ground ball to second that cut the lead to 3-1. After falling behind 2-0 to Sandy Leon, Diaz came back to get the count full. Leon’s hard ground ball on a 3-2 pitch was gobbled up a by sliding Robinson Cano in right field as part of a shift. He fired quickly to first for the final out of the game and Diaz’s second save.