Monday, May 05, 2014
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Mariners Hang On To Beat Astros

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[May 05, 2014]  HOUSTON -- As the Houston Astros attempted a second consecutive white-knuckle, late-inning rally, it was relatively easy to forget how tenuous things were for Mariners right-hander Brandon Maurer and, by association, Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon in the fifth inning.

McClendon had his faith in Maurer validated and the Mariners' bullpen, shaky throughout the weekend, held on tight enough to preserve an 8-7 win at Minute Maid Park in the rubber match of this three-game series.

Willie Bloomquist, Robinson Cano and Corey Hart delivered successive run-scoring hits in the Mariners' four-run third inning, staking Maurer to a 5-1 lead. Three batters into the fifth that lead was three runs with the tying run, Astros catcher Jason Castro, at the plate with no outs.

Maurer (1-0) retired Castro, third baseman Matt Dominguez and left fielder Alex Presley in order to strand two runners and send Seattle (14-15) on its way to a 4-1 start on this rain-shortened, nine-game road trip.

"A big hurdle to get over there," Maurer said of the fifth. "It was nice. It felt good to ... get out of it."

Said McClendon: "It's tough. You've got a lot of things weighing on you. It's not easy as a manager to make that decision whether or not you pull him. What does that do for his ego, his belief in what he can accomplish? But you're also weighing what's good for the team, your responsibility to the team to try and win the game. Believe me it was not easy. It was a gut-wrenching inning."


The Mariners rocked Astros right-hander Collin McHugh (2-1), sending nine batters to the plate in the third while recording as many hits that inning -- five -- as McHugh allowed total over his first two starts.

McHugh fanned 12 batters while carrying a shutout in the seventh inning of his season debut April 22 at Seattle. His second appearance against the Mariners wasn't as exceptional, with McHugh allowing six runs (five earned) on eight hits and one walk while striking out four over four innings. He set the Mariners down in order only once, in the second, and allowed three extra-base hits during his unsightly third.

"Just not executing pitches very well is what it comes down to," McHugh said. "I just missed with a couple of pitches here and there. They put some good swings on it, and that really took the wind out of the sails in that third inning."

Mariners catcher John Buck, whose double in the third set the table for Bloomquist to follow with a two-run double of his own, doubled and scored in the fourth as Seattle pushed its lead to 6-1. The Astros (10-21) rallied in the series finale, but as they did Saturday night, fell just short.

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Astros first baseman Chris Carter delivered a two-run double in the fourth inning off Maurer and shortstop Jonathan Villar added a leadoff homer in the fifth, the Astros' second homer of the day. Presley tied the game with his leadoff homer to right field off Maurer in the second.

Houston cut the deficit to two when pinch-hitter Marc Krauss greeted right-hander Danny Farquhar with a two-run double in the eighth. But Farquhar retired the next three batters to close that frame and then earned his first save by striking out Dominguez to end the ninth after Castro produced an RBI single.

"They take pride in playing all the way until the end," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "Regardless of the score, they're going to play hard and grind their at-bats."

NOTES: Mariners RHP Hisashi Iwakuma emerged from his first start of the season without complications and will face zero restrictions during his next start. Seattle is scheduled to play a doubleheader on May 7 in Oakland, but a start for Iwakuma then would require his working on just three days of rest. Iwakuma threw 81 pitches Saturday, allowing four runs on six hits and one walk with three strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings. ... After giving RF George Springer the day off Saturday, Astros manager Bo Porter dropped Springer from fourth to sixth in the batting order. Springer hit /173/.246/.212 in 13 games as the cleanup hitter. ... The Astros designated LHP Raul Valdes for assignment and recalled LHP Darin Downs from Triple-A Oklahoma City. Downs was 1-2 with a 5.54 ERA in nine games with the RedHawks.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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