Chicago Cubs starter Shota Imanaga delivers a pitch during the...

Chicago Cubs starter Shota Imanaga delivers a pitch during the second inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Seattle. Credit: AP/Stephen Brashear

SEATTLE — Shota Imanaga allowed one unearned run over 5 1/3 innings, Michael Busch homered in his third straight game and the Chicago Cubs beat the Seattle Mariners 4-1 on Saturday night.

Seiya Suzuki and Miguel Amaya also hit solo home runs for the Cubs. But the focus was on Imanaga (2-0) continuing the excellent start to his major league career, and some timely defense from third baseman Christopher Morel in the sixth to keep the Cubs in front.

Morel made consecutive outstanding plays with runners in scoring position, first diving to stop Mitch Garver’s hard grounder from getting down the left-field line and then leaping to snag Dylan Moore’s line drive.

“That changes the game right there. They may have the lead if that ball gets into the corner,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell said of the first play Morel made. “That was a huge play. He made some really nice plays tonight. Overall it was definitely a really big defensive game for Christopher.”

The two plays by Morel helped get Chicago out of trouble after Imanaga walked the first two batters in the inning. The left-hander has gone 15 1/3 innings without giving up an earned run. He allowed five hits, struck out four and walked two.

“I want to thank him,” Imanaga said through a translator. “With his defense, we were able to win. So I want to congratulate him and thank him on that.”

Mark Leiter Jr., Yency Almonte, Hector Neris and Adbert Alzolay permitted just two baserunners in 3 2/3 innings of relief. Alzolay earned his second save.

Chicago Cubs' Seiya Suzuki celebrates while running the bases on...

Chicago Cubs' Seiya Suzuki celebrates while running the bases on a solo home run off Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Emerson Hancock during the third inning of a baseball game Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Seattle. Credit: AP/Stephen Brashear

Busch ran his home run streak to three games by hitting a solo shot off reliever Tyson Miller in the seventh.

“He's swinging it really good right now and he's driving it, most importantly,” Counsell said.

Suzuki’s homer came on the first pitch he saw from Seattle starter Emerson Hancock (1-2) with two outs in the third. Amaya homered off reliever Austin Voth in the eighth.

Hancock rebounded after getting knocked around in his last start. He allowed two runs on four hits and struck out four.

Chicago Cubs starter Shota Imanaga delivers a pitch during the...

Chicago Cubs starter Shota Imanaga delivers a pitch during the fifth inning of the team's baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Seattle. Credit: AP/Stephen Brashear

“Can't fault the starting pitching. Normally you don't lose games if you give up solo homers, but they got three of them tonight,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said.

Seattle got to Imanaga in the second inning after Mitch Haniger reached on an error by Busch at first base. Haniger scored on Luis Urías’ two-out double, but Imanaga stranded runners at second and third by striking out Seby Zavala.

Imanaga said Seattle's game plan was to lay off his splitter down in the zone, which made spotting his fastball for a strike more important. Imanaga threw 61 fastballs among his 90 pitches.

“The first two games that I pitched, my off speeds felt good as well as my fastball,” Imanaga said. “Today, I didn't really have the changeup and then as the game went on, my fastball command, the quality started to go down. So just kind of learning how do I need to make an adjustment, and moving from there.”

The stadium became smoky during the fifth inning after a car caught fire on a roadway outside the ballpark and the breeze pushed the smoke into the stadium.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cubs: RHP Jameson Taillon (back) threw 3 2/3 innings and 68 pitches on Friday in a rehab outing with Triple-A Iowa. His next start is expected to come with the Cubs, Counsell said. Taillon plans to meet the team in Arizona on Monday, although it’s unclear when he will slot back into the rotation.

UP NEXT

Cubs: RHP Javier Assad (1-0, 1.64 ERA) allowed two runs over five innings in his last start against San Diego. He threw six shutout innings in his first start of the season.

Mariners: RHP Luis Castillo (0-3, 6.89) has allowed four earned runs in each of his first three starts. Castillo has yet to finish six innings and has lost three straight decisions for the first time since last June.

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