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
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
"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
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
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