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KC@SEA: Iwakuma shuts down Royals over eight innings

Two of the American League's elite arms will be on display Tuesday night at Safeco Field when Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma faces off with Rays lefty David Price.

In Iwakuma's last start, a 1-0 win over visiting Kansas City, he appeared in every way the pitcher who finished 2013 third in the AL Cy Young race. Iwakuma needed just 93 pitches to toss eight shutout innings. He allowed just four hits -- all singles -- struck out seven and walked none while picking up the win to improve to 2-0 and lower his ERA to 2.45.

It was just his second start after he missed live action in Spring Training and the first month of the season with a strained finger tendon on his throwing hand. Afterward, he said he felt that his stuff was back to normal.

"I missed a month already. I need to make up for that," Iwakuma said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. "That's all I have in mind."

That could be bad news for Tampa Bay, which was soundly beat, 12-5, in Monday's opener after four early errors sparked a Mariners rout.

The Rays, who enter Tuesday last in the AL East and losers of five of their last six, will at least have the benefit of running out Price. Oddly, the southpaw in six seasons in the Major Leagues has made just one career appearance against the Mariners. He has been up and down this year, posting a 3-3 record and a 4.53 ERA in eight starts, and admitted Monday that he has struggled with giving up runs in bunches.

Price no longer averages the 95-mph fastball that helped him win the 2012 Cy Young, but he said he can make up for it with better control.

"It doesn't matter what the pitch selection is," he said. "Or where the players are in the field. If you execute your pitch, you can probably have a very high percentage of positive outcomes. That's what I want to get back to, making quality pitches."

Mariners: Jones thriving at leadoff
Hitting leadoff for the third consecutive game, rookie center fielder James Jones was again the one who sparked the offense in Monday's win.

He began the bottom of the first inning with a double, then came around to score when Stefen Romero followed with a double down the right-field line. In the second, Jones scored on a Robinson Cano sacrifice fly. He led off the third with a single and came around to score. He finished 2-for-5 with three runs, and is hitting .391.

"He's a high-energy kid," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He brings a lot of intangibles to the table. Not to mention his speed and defense, but he gets after it pretty good and I think he energizes the rest of the guys."

Rays: Joyce snaps club's power drought
Matt Joyce's solo home run in the first inning of Sunday's game snapped a team drought of 30 innings without a home run. The blast was Joyce's third of the season. Entering Monday's action, the Rays and Rockies were the only teams in baseball with eight players with three home runs each.

Oddly, none of those eight players have hit five home runs, making the Rays one of four teams in baseball without a five-homer player, joining the Royals, Rangers and Mets.

Worth noting
• Rays right-hander Alex Cobb (left-oblique strain) threw 60 pitches in a simulated game to extended spring players at the Charlotte Sports Complex on Monday. He threw four innings and 15 pitches in each frame.

• Entering Tuesday, Seattle has won eight of its last 11 and 11 of its last 15.

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