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TOR@SEA: Iwakuma strikes out five over 6 2/3 innings

He doesn't receive the spotlight or the headlines like his teammate Felix Hernandez, but Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma is quietly putting together another remarkable season.

Iwakuma is 6-2 with a 1.83 ERA in nine starts since July 1 and is coming off 6 2/3 scoreless innings in a victory over the Blue Jays that raised his record to 11-6 and dropped his ERA to 2.72.

Iwakuma takes the mound at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday when the Mariners play the second of three games against the Phillies.

A season after finishing third in American League Cy Young Award race, Iwakuma has yet to draw attention to himself for anything other than his pitching. He is too busy enjoying being part of one of the best pitching staffs in the big leagues. Seattle entered Monday leading the MLB with a 2.94 ERA, bolstered by a bullpen that owned an AL-low 2.39 ERA.

"We all have the spirit to win," Iwakuma said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. "We have a lot of confidence in our bullpen and I rely on them a lot. We're working well as a team. Our bullpen has been great."

Like many of the Mariners, Iwakuma is making his first appearance against the Phillies. Logan Morrison is one of the few Mariners with experience at Citizens Bank after playing the previous four seasons for the Marlins in the National League East.

Morrison is enjoying playing meaningful games for the Mariners in mid-August for a club contending for a playoff berth.

"I've been in this park when it meant a lot more to them than it did to us," Morrison said. "Now it's the other way around, so it feels good."

Morrison has also faced Phillies right-hander A.J. Burnett enough to know that his 6-13 record and 4.35 ERA aren't necessarily indicative of the quality of pitcher Seattle will face Tuesday.

"He's got a good two-seamer, slider, knows how to pitch," Morrison said. "He's been around a long time. I've faced him a bunch of times. He's got good stuff. It'll be a challenge for us and I'm looking forward to it."

Mariners: McClendon and Sandberg go back
Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon and Phillies skipper Ryne Sandberg played together on the Cubs in 1989-90. Prior to Monday's series opener, McClendon recalled how he narrowly avoided being part of Sandberg's first error after the Hall of Famer set a National League record of 123 straight games at second base without a miscue.

McClendon played a number of games at first base that year in place of an injured Mark Grace, but not the one where Sandberg was charged with a throwing error to snap a streak that had extended over parts of two seasons.

"Gracie got hurt and I'd played first for an extended period of time during Ryno's error-less streak," McClendon recalled. "The night he made the error, Grace had come back and we were in Houston and I was sitting on the bench. When Ryno made the error, he came back in and sat down and it was weird because nobody knew what to say to him. I just looked over and said, 'I'm sure glad I'm not playing first.' He just laughed. Could you have imagined the heat I'd have taken? I was, 'Whew, I dodged a bullet there.'"

McClendon said he sees a lot of similarities between his former teammate and his current second baseman, Robinson Cano.

"Obviously one is right-handed, one is left," he said. "But they're both great at the position, tremendous run producers, great with the glove. They brought a lot of the same attributes to the table."

Phillies: Mayberry Jr. to start rehab assignment
Outfielder John Mayberry Jr. is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday.

Mayberry Jr., who hasn't played since July 20, is on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his left wrist.

The plan is for Mayberry Jr. to play six-to-eight games with the IronPigs while splitting time between all three outfield spots and first base before getting recalled, according to Sandberg .

"With a wrist injury like that, you want to be careful with it and take your time," Sandberg said. "Possibly starting off a little bit slowly and progressing with it. Whatever is necessary, but a little more on the cautious side if anything as far as the number of games."

In 63 games, Mayberry Jr. is hitting .213 with six home runs and 21 RBIs.

Worth noting
• The Mariners are playing their first series at Citizens Bank Park and are making just their second trip ever to Philadelphia. Seattle swept a three-game series at Veterans Stadium in 2003. The only current ballpark where the Mariners haven't played yet is Citi Field in New York.

• In three August starts, Burnett is 0-3 with a 6.59 ERA and a 1.98 WHIP. Dating back to July 18 -- a span of six starts -- Burnett is 0-5 with a 6.54 ERA in 31 2/3 innings.

• Iwakuma missed all of Spring Training and didn't make a big league start until May 3 because of a strained middle finger on his throwing hand. Comments