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Baseball: Japan's Iwakuma extends deal with Mariners

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma throws against Texas Rangers leadoff batter Ian Kinsler during the first inning of their A
Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma throws against Texas Rangers leadoff batter Ian Kinsler during the first inning of their A

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma has been given an extended contract by the Seattle Mariners, keeping the right-hander at the Major League Baseball club through the 2014 season.

The 31-year-old will also have an option for 2015, the Mariners said on Friday.

Iwakuma began the season in the bullpen before taking a starting role in July, going 8-4 with a 2.65 ERA over the final three months of the season.

He was 6-2 with a 1.83 ERA and 43 strikeouts over his last nine starts.

"Kuma really helped solidify our rotation in the second half of the season," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said in a statement.

"He is a competitor on the mound and did a great job for us. He got stronger with each start during the season and gained confidence."

Iwakuma, who played a major role in Japan's second successive World Baseball Classic title in 2009, joined Seattle at the start of 2012 on a one-year deal.

(Reporting by Alastair Himmer; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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