Mariners

Mariners Are Knocked Around Again In Front Of The Smallest Crowd In Safeco History

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Right fielder Michael Saunders is tended to by center fielder Franklin Gutierrez after crashing into the wall (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Right fielder Michael Saunders is tended to by center fielder Franklin Gutierrez after crashing into the wall (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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SEATTLE (AP) — Kelly Shoppach hit a ball off the top of Safeco Field’s new fence. Michael Saunders ran right into the old one.

Shoppach had a home run and just missed another Wednesday night for the Seattle Mariners in an 8-3 loss to the Houston Astros that began with an injury to Saunders.

The right fielder sprained his right shoulder crashing into the outfield wall to make a catch in the first inning. He will be re-examined Thursday.

“It’s a right AC sprain,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “He’s going to have to miss some time. It’s just a matter of how much time. It could be a DL situation. We’re working through everything right now.”

Rick Ankiel and Chris Carter each hit a two-run homer in Houston’s second straight offensive outburst. This one came before a crowd of 10,493, the smallest at Safeco Field since the ballpark opened 13½ years ago.

Carlos Pena had three hits and scored twice for the Astros, who also got two RBIs from J.D. Martinez and a late home run by Marwin Gonzalez. Brad Peacock earned first major league win since 2011.

After losing 3-0 on Monday, the Astros scored 24 runs on 37 hits in winning the final two games of the series.

“You can’t give up that many hits in two nights and expect to win ballgames,” Seattle starter Blake Beavan said.

Saunders left the game after running down a deep drive hit by leadoff batter Jose Altuve. Saunders chased the ball in a full sprint across the warning track and caught it just as he collided with the padded wall. He fell to the ground holding his right shoulder.

He stayed down for several minutes while the Seattle medical staff treated him. Saunders then walked to the dugout holding his right arm close to his ribs.

Jason Bay took over in right field. Saunders was batting .286 with a seven-game hitting streak.

“It’s tough. Michael’s a hard-nosed player,” Wedge said. “It was a heck of a play. He hit that wall hard. I’m hopeful it’s nothing too serious. I don’t think it is.”

The wall at Safeco Field was moved in left field and across to center this season, as much as 17 feet closer to home plate in certain places. Shoppach easily cleared the left-field fence in the third. Then with Dustin Ackley on first and one out in the fifth, he launched a second drive to left-center. The ball ticked off the glove of a leaping Martinez and hit the yellow line at the top of the wall.

Wedge argued it was a home run, but crew chief Wally Bell gathered the umpires and they marched under the stands to check the video replay. It was ruled a double.

Shoppach was asked if he thought the ball was gone.

“Yeah, I did,” he said with some vigor. “But a year ago that probably would have been a can of corn. It worked out good today.”

Ackley raced around to score but Shoppach was left stranded, and the Mariners didn’t generate much after that.

Shoppach finished with three hits, including the RBI double. Franklin Gutierrez hit his third homer in the sixth.

Carter, who hit two home runs in a 16-9 rout Tuesday, added three hits in this one. He finished the series 8 for 15 with three homers and five RBIs.

“Everyone’s confidence was still rolling into today,” Carter said.

Houston, which arrived in Seattle with a .199 batting average, hit .367 in the series to raise the team mark to .262.

“When they’re finding the barrel of the bat that much they are doing things right, putting it in play,” Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan said. “At the same time, not every one has to go in the gap or over the fence. That’s the way it goes, I guess.”

Ankiel snapped an 0-for-13 slide with a second-inning homer. Peacock (1-1) allowed three runs and four hits in five-plus innings for his first big league victory since Sept. 22, 2011, with Washington at Philadelphia.

“I had a good feeling going into today,” Peacock said. “It definitely carried over. They swung the bats awesome today.”

The Astros scored three times off Beavan (0-1) in the second, highlighted by Ankiel’s shot to center. Mariners pitchers have allowed 19 home runs, most in the majors.

Houston added two more runs in the third. Jason Castro reached on a two-base error when Gutierrez couldn’t gather a popup in center that Ryan lost in the dusk. Castro scored on Pena’s single, the first unearned run (out of 54) allowed by the Mariners this season.

Martinez doubled home Pena for a 5-0 lead.

Shoppach’s first home run with the Mariners was a solo shot.

Gutierrez’s leadoff drive in the sixth ended the night for Peacock. He walked one and struck out three.

The Mariners have 14 home runs in their first 10 games. They hit just five through 10 games last season and didn’t hit No. 14 until their 20th game.

Carter put it away in the seventh with his home run to left off Carter Capps.

NOTES: The Mariners called up LHP Bobby LaFromboise from Triple-A Tacoma and optioned LHP Lucas Luetge to their top farm team. Wedge said the move was necessary because of the strain on the pitching staff after Tuesday’s loss. “It was nothing in regard to Lucas. He has options. He threw three innings (Tuesday) and we needed another arm,” Wedge said. … OF Casper Wells, beaten out for the final Mariners roster spot in spring training by Bay, was claimed off waivers by Toronto. … Michael Morse, tied for the major league lead with six home runs, was rested. … Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was in attendance behind home plate.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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