HOUSTON (AP) — A couple of missed opportunities by the Seattle Mariners led to a 2-1 loss to the Houston Astros on Monday.
Lance McCullers struck out 10 in seven strong innings and George Springer homered for the second straight day to help Houston to the win.
McCullers (4-2), who missed his previous turn with a blister on his right index finger, allowed five hits and one run while matching his season high for strikeouts. Luke Gregerson pitched a perfect eighth and Will Harris did the same in the ninth for his eighth save.
The Mariners came up empty twice after having a runner on third with no outs.
The first time came when Leonys Martin hit a leadoff triple before Seth Smith struck out. McCullers then struck out Robinson Cano, but the ball got away from catcher Jason Castro and Martin broke for home. McCullers covered and took the short toss from Castro to tag out Martin at the plate.
But Martin didn’t regret his decision.
“If given the opportunity, I would do it again,” he said. “I’m not afraid.”
Springer got things going for the Astros with a double in the first before a single by Marwin Gonzalez. Carlos Correa drew a walk to load the bases with one out before the Astros took a 1-0 lead on a sacrifice fly by Luis Valbuena.
Kyle Seager hit a ground-rule double with one out in the second and the Mariners tied it on the single by Lee. McCullers settled in after that, retiring the next 14 straight. He struck out eight in that span, including the side in the third.
The Mariners didn’t have another baserunner until Cano singled to start the seventh. A walk by Nelson Cruz followed and a single from Seager loaded the bases. Seattle missed another scoring opportunity when Lee grounded into a double play before McCullers retired Adam Lind to end the inning and his day.
“I thought we had them on the ropes there in the seventh inning, bases loaded and nobody out,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get it done. But McCullers had really good stuff. Probably one of the better breaking balls we’ve seen all year.”
Seattle starter Wade Miley (6-5) yielded seven hits and two runs in 6 2/3 innings for his third straight loss.
Smith went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts, ending a streak of four straight games with a homer.
There were two outs in the fifth when Springer launched his 19th home run to left-center field to make it 2-1.
“I tried to get a sinker down and away and cut it back over the plate,” Miley said. “I just made a mistake pitch and he did what he’s supposed to do with it.”
Dae-Ho Lee had an RBI single for the Mariners, whose four-game winning streak was snapped.
Mariners: RHP Felix Hernandez will throw a simulated game Wednesday. Servais said Hernandez will throw 45 pitches. Hernandez has been on the DL with a strained right calf since June 1.
FLIP AND PITCH
Four-time defending national champion and three-time defending world all-around champion gymnast Simone Biles threw out the ceremonial first pitch. But it was far from an average throw. The 19-year-old, who is from nearby Spring, Texas, flipped toward the mound before launching a high throw to pitcher Scott Feldman. Biles was relieved that it went well and glad she didn’t become part of a blooper reel.
Mariners: Taijuan Walker (4-6, 3.29 ERA) will start for Seattle on Tuesday. Walker is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA and 23 strikeouts in his last four starts.
Astros: Dallas Keuchel (5-9, 5.13 ERA) is scheduled to start Tuesday. Last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner, who has struggled this season, has won two straight games for the first time this year and is looking for his first win at home since April 15.
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