SEATTLE -- Veteran right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, who had struggled in his first four starts in an injury-plagued season, went eight innings on Saturday night as the Mariners kept the Angels from grabbing the American League West lead with a 5-0 victory at Safeco Field.
Iwakuma lowered his ERA from 7.17 to 5.22 in picking up his first win of the year as the 34-year-old allowed just three hits, only one coming after he loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning. Nelson Cruz went 3-for-3 with a double, a walk and three runs scored on Nelson Cruz Bobblehead Night for the Mariners (41-47).
"That's the Iwakuma I know and love," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "It's nice to see him back."
Angels lefty C.J. Wilson (7-7, 3.83) allowed three runs on five hits and four walks over 6 2/3 innings. The loss leaves the Halos a half-game back of Houston in the AL West at 47-40.
"It's a gritty performance," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia of Wilson. "He threw a lot of pitches and as the game went on I thought he got a little better with his command, but he was kind of on the edge all night."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Big man with a big catch: Cruz earned his fourth All-Star invitation with his bat, but the Mariners' right fielder came through with his glove in the first inning, making a fully extended diving catch of David Freese's two-out line drive into the gap to help Iwakuma escape a bases-loaded jam. The Angels filled the bases before an out was recorded, but Iwakuma struck out Albert Pujols, got Erick Aybar to ground to third baseman Kyle Seager for the forceout at home, then dodged a big bullet when Cruz hauled in Freese's liner.
"That was a game changer," Iwakuma said of Cruz's grab. "It made me feel a lot better. I was happy for the team. That gave us a lot of momentum."
Cruz'n for runs: The Mariners did cash in on a bases-loaded opportunity in the second inning, with Montero drawing a walk from Wilson to force in Cruz and Brad Miller following with a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead. In the third, Cruz scored from second on a base hit to shallow center by Trumbo. And in the seventh, Cruz doubled and scored for a third time, on another Trumbo single.
"Nelson said he felt fast tonight," McClendon said with a smile. "He was pretty good."
Leaving 'em loaded Wilson briefly lost command to open the bottom of the fifth inning. He drilled Cano on the helmet, left a slider over the plate to Cruz that resulted in a single and walked Seager to load the bases with no outs. Cano attempted to score after an 0-2 slider got by catcher Carlos Perez, but Perez hustled to grab the ball and flip it to Wilson, who applied the tag for the first out. Wilson then struck out Mark Trumbo and got Jesus Montero to ground out to third to escape with no damage.
Trout tracks it down: After some early struggles with command, Wilson settled in nicely to retire the final six hitters he faced. But he got a little help from center fielder Mike Trout to retire Cano, his final hitter in the seventh. Cano laced a 1-0 cutter 383 feet to dead center, but Trout managed to run it down, timing his leap perfectly to rob Cano of extra bases and record the second out of the inning.
"The story of tonight was I just couldn't get Cruz out, you know? Cruz was the swing guy for me in the lineup today, and if I would've been able to get him out once in the first couple innings, then the game would've turned out a lot differently. The only thing I can say is at least he didn't hit a home run or anything like that." -- Wilson
"He had two big hits tonight. He had a nice night. We need him to be productive for us and he didn't disappoint." -- McClendon on Trumbo, who went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and has hit .435 over his past six games to lift his average from .139 to .228 with the Mariners
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Iwakuma had allowed nine home runs in 21 2/3 innings over his first four starts of the season. The Angels had hit 15 homers in their last six games, including four in Friday's 7-3 win.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
With one out in the bottom of the third, Mariners designated hitter Franklin Gutierrez hustled to second in an attempt to beat catcher Perez's throw after a wild pitch by Wilson and was called safe by second-base umpire Jordan Baker. Scioscia challenged and the call was overturned for the second out of the inning.
WHAT'S NEXT Angels: Lefty Andrew Heaney (2-0, 1.77 ERA) will take the mound for the Angels on Sunday in the first-half finale against the Mariners at 1:10 p.m. PT at Safeco Field. Heaney has pitched well since his promotion from Triple-A Salt Lake, throwing six or more innings while allowing two earned runs or fewer in each of his three starts.
Mariners:Taijuan Walker (7-6, 4.53) will be on the mound for Seattle. The 22-year-old right-hander is 6-1, 2.32 in his last eight starts, including a June 26 win in Anaheim, where he allowed one run and seven hits over seven innings in his only previous appearance against the Angels.