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Iwakuma wins season debut after return from injury

AFP-JIJI, AP, Kyodo

Hisashi Iwakuma won his season debut Saturday, pitching 6⅔ innings to help the Seattle Mariners beat the host Houston Astros 9-8.

Iwakuma missed more than a month at the start of the season with a torn extensor tendon in his right middle finger, but was activated hours before the game so he could take the mound.

The 33-year-old right-hander, who finished third in last year’s American League Cy Young Award voting, allowed four runs on six hits while striking out three Houston batters.

Iwakuma threw 56 of his 81 pitches for strikes and helped stake the Mariners to a lead before the Astros rallied late.

“Overall, today’s game I was able to pitch well,” Iwakuma said through a translator. “I was able to command both sides of the plate and that helped with pretty much all my pitches.”

Justin Smoak homered to cap an eight-run burst for the Mariners in the seventh inning.

“We have had a habit of doing it all in one inning,” Smoak said. “It was good to get something going there. We got it going, kept it going and were able to hold on there at the end.”

Fernando Rodney escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and finished for his seventh save.

Yankees 9, Rays 3

In New York, Masahiro Tanaka had trouble locating his fastball but hung on to go seven innings and earn his fourth win.

Tanaka (4-0) allowed three runs on eight hits, while striking out five and walking none. For the first four innings before 43,325 at Yankee Stadium, he could not get ahead in counts with either his fastball or his slider and could not put batters away with his splitter.

“The good thing about today was that I managed to battle so well. None of my pitches were any good,” said Tanaka, who is now 32-0 in regular-season decisions since his last defeat on Aug. 19, 2012.

After the Rays took a 3-0 lead in the fourth, the right-hander began showing some feel for his fastball. His other pitches soon followed, and that allowed him to hold the fort, while the Yankees came back.

“I used a lot of pitches early on, but little by little as I found some rhythm, I had this sense I could make to the seventh inning,” he said.

Ichiro Suzuki, who started in right field and went 2-for-4, doubled to open the fifth and scored the tying run on a Jacoby Ellsbury double. Red Sox 6, Athletics 3

In Boston, Jon Lester (3-4) struck out a career-high 15, allowing one hit over eight scoreless innings — Craig Gentry’s leadoff bloop single in the third over the head of Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

Jonny Gomes hit a grand slam in the first off Tommy Milone (0-3), and David Ortiz and David Ross added solo homers in Boston’s second straight win after losing a day-night doubleheader to Tampa Bay.

Koji Uehara got out of a one-out, two-on jam for his seventh save.

Twins 6, Orioles 1

In Minneapolis, Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier homered, Kevin Correia earned his first win of the season and Minnesota ended its four-game losing streak.

Mauer had three hits and four RBIs, including a three-run homer off Brad Brach in the seventh that broke open the game. Dozier’s eighth homer, a solo shot off Chen Wei-yin (3-2) in the third, gave the Twins the lead for good.

Indians 2, White Sox 0

In Cleveland, Justin Masterson (1-1) held the AL’s highest-scoring offense in check, allowing four hits and striking out six in 7⅓ innings to win for the first time in nine starts since Aug. 21. John Axford pitched the ninth for his ninth save, as the Indians sent Chicago to its fourth straight loss.

Tigers 9, Royals 2

In Kansas City, Drew Smyly (2-1) picked up where fellow Detroit starter Rick Porcello left off, allowing two hits in seven shutout innings.

Joba Chamberlain threw a perfect eighth and Phil Coke allowed two runs in the ninth.

Norichika Aoki went 1-for-4 with a run scored for the Royals in the loss.

Angels 5, Rangers 3

In Anaheim, C.J. Cron hit an RBI single on the first pitch he saw in the major leagues, doubled his second time up and hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the sixth inning to lead the Angels to a victory over the Rangers.