Iwakuma battles effects of heat against A's

Iwakuma battles effects of heat against A's

PHOENIX -- Hisashi Iwakuma wasn't his normal ground-ball-inducing self on Monday, but the veteran right-hander battled his way through a spring-high five innings, and the Mariners held off the A's for a 6-5 win in Cactus League action at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

Iwakuma gave up six hits and three runs, including a two-run blast by catcher Derek Norris in the fourth inning. The 31-year-old wasn't as sharp as he'd been in previous outings, having allowed just seven hits and three runs in 10 prior innings.

After not walking a batter all spring, he issued two free passes and recorded no strikeouts, but he said there was a reason for that, as the 83-degree heat caused him some issues with the ball.

"My pitches were a little higher than I expected, especially the fastball," Iwakuma said through interpreter Daisuke Sekiba. "The air was kind of dry, and the ball felt a little slippery. So I tried to pitch lower, like last time, but I didn't have good command with it. I was losing my grip."

Iwakuma's sinker normally induces numerous ground balls, but an uncharacteristic 10 of his outs came on fly balls, compared with four on the ground, and the A's cranked out three doubles in addition to Norris' home run.

Manager Eric Wedge saw no reason for concern, however, as Iwakuma continued working his way through a long spring.

"I thought he threw the ball well," Wedge said. "He was up a little bit later, but he did a good job putting the ball on the ground when he needed to, and he used all his pitches. He continues to be strong. It was another good day for Kuma."

Iwakuma is on schedule to pitch the second game of the regular season, against the A's on April 2. His Cactus League ERA stands at 3.60 with two starts remaining.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.