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Mariners, Royals open set in Emerald City

(SportsNetwork.com) - Seattle right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma makes his second start of the season on Thursday when the Mariners open a four-game series with the Kansas City Royals at Safeco Field.

Iwakuma, of course, started the season on the disabled list with a strained finger tendon in his throwing hand, but returned on Saturday to beat Houston, as he held the Astros to four runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings.

"Overall, I was able to pitch well. I was able to command both sides of the plate and that helped a lot with pretty much all my pitches," Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki. "I threw a few pitches up and kind of battled that, but besides that, I was able to pitch a good game."

Iwakuma tossed eight scoreless innings to beat the Royals the only other time he faced them.

Seattle returns home on Thursday after going 7-2 on its nine-game road trip. The Mariners closed the trek with a doubleheader split in Oakland, as they won the first game, 6-4, in 10 innings, before having their five-game winning streak stopped in the nightcap with a 2-0 setback.

"Just an unbelievable trip in my opinion," Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. "Just phenomenal. I was very proud of the team and how they played. We put ourselves in a pretty good position."

The Mariners have now won 10 of 13 following an eight-game skid.

Kansas City, meanwhile, rallied to take the final two games of its three-game series with the San Diego Padres. On Wednesday, James Shields worked seven scoreless innings and Eric Hosmer had four RBI to lead the Royals to an 8-0 rout.

Shields (4-3) allowed seven hits and two walks, while fanning four and giving the Royals their first ever series win in San Diego.

Hosmer finished with three hits, Danny Valencia went 3-for-5 with an RBI and Mike Moustakas also drove in a run for the Royals, who had lost five in a row before this little stretch.

"Right now, I'm just trying to do anything to help the team win. The biggest thing today, coming up with guys in scoring position and getting runs in," said Hosmer.

"Those are situations that I've got to capitalize on, as an offense, as a whole we've got to capitalize on and we did a good job of that today."

Getting the call for the Royals on Thursday will be lefty Danny Duffy, who is 1-2 with a 2.19 ERA. Duffy lost to Detroit on Saturday, as he surrendered a run and two hits, but walked four batters in four innings.

"Pound the zone a little bit more because I was about 50-50 balls and strikes. I want to definitely attack earlier and be a little bit more efficient. I can do that," said Duffy, who is filling in for the injured Bruce Chen.

Kansas City won four of its seven matchups with the Mariners last season, but were 1-2 in the Emerald City.

05/08 10:27:54 ET

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