Saturday, September 20, 2014
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Mariners hit four homers in victory

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[September 20, 2014]  HOUSTON -- Having arrived in town just before dawn, the Seattle Mariners had a legitimate excuse for fielding a lethargic squad in the opener of their critical three-game weekend series against the Houston Astros. Instead of sluggish, the Mariners were sharp.

Mariners left fielder Dustin Ackley notched his second career multi-homer game as the Mariners belted four home runs in their 10-5 victory over the Houston Astros on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

Ackley cracked solo home runs in the third and eighth innings, walked and scored three times as Seattle (83-70) kept pace in the American League wild-card chase. The Mariners also smacked two three-run homers en route to their third double-digit scoring output this month.

"Yeah, that seems to work pretty good," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said of the power surge and the three-run homers in particular. "I'll take a few more of those. A good night offensively."

Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano finished 3-for-5 and produced his 900th career RBI. Seattle right-hander Taijuan Walker (2-2) was victorious in his return to the starting rotation, allowing two runs, eight hits and two walks with seven strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings.

The Astros (67-87) dropped their fourth consecutive home game on the heels of a five-game home winning streak. Second baseman Jose Altuve finished 3-for-3 and upped his season hits total to 216, the most by a primary second baseman since Rod Carew recorded 218 in 1974.

Altuve also matched the single-season hits record for a Venezuelan-born player set by Magglio Ordonez with the Detroit Tigers in 2007.

"He was one of the best hitters when he played in Venezuela," Altuve said of Ordonez. "I'm happy to tie him for hits in a season."

Astros right-hander Brad Peacock (4-9) showed flashes of wildness and it was his lack of control, combined with a mistake-prone defense, that cost him an opportunity to work deep into his 27th start of 2014.

Peacock walked two batters in the second inning yet managed to escape unscathed. However, when Peacock walked center fielder Austin Jackson and Ackley in succession in the fourth, Seattle didn't waste the opportunity.

After Cano chased Peacock with a run-scoring single, third baseman Kyle Seager greeted Astros right-hander Jake Buchanan with a three-run homer to right field, his 24th home run of the season. That was the Mariners' second three-run blast in the frame, with catcher Mike Zunino smacking his 21st home run after first baseman Logan Morrison and right fielder Michael Saunders reached on consecutive errors by shortstop Jonathan Villar and first baseman Chris Carter, and after McClendon took off the bunt play.

"I got into a 2-1 count, he took it off and let me swing," Zunino said. "But it's something I'm pretty comfortable doing."

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The Mariners sent 12 batters to the plate in the fourth while scoring seven runs (six unearned). Peacock was charged with all seven runs, six hits and four walks (with two strikeouts) over 3 1/3 wobbly innings.

"I still got to make pitches and do my job out there," Peacock said of the defensive miscues. "It was a tough one."

Granted an 8-1 lead, Walker was able to focus on attacking hitters. He surrendered three hits to Altuve and two run-scoring singles to center fielder Dexter Fowler, but that amount of difficulty proved manageable.

He navigated a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the third and worked briskly after the Mariners spotted him a sizable lead an inning later.

"In my previous starts I wasn't pounding the strike zone so I wanted to make sure I went out there and pounded the strike zone, especially with my fastball," said Walker, who made his first start since July 23. "That's definitely what I did and just kind of made them put the ball in play."

NOTES: Mariners LHP Roenis Elias underwent an MRI on his left elbow, the results of which won't be known until Monday. Elias is reportedly lost for the remainder of the season with elbow stiffness. He made his last appearance on Sept. 16 in a 13-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels. ... Astros 2B Jose Altuve made his first start of the season as designated hitter, a move designed to give DH Chris Carter some play in the field in advance of the season-ending interleague road series against the New York Mets. Carter started at first base in the place of scuffling rookie Jon Singleton, who is mired in an 0-for-20 slump and has 22 strikeouts against just four hits this month. ... The Mariners arrived in Houston around 6 a.m. Friday after winning in Anaheim against the Los Angeles Angels late Thursday night.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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