SEATTLE (AP) — James Paxton was already in trouble before he really lost control.
Three wild pitches and five runs later, the Seattle Mariners were on their way to a collective thud to start the second half of the season.
“I made some bad pitches there and they made us pay,” Paxton said. “The wild pitches there didn’t help. It wasn’t good.”
Carlos Correa had a two-out, two-run double off Paxton, then scored from second base on a wild pitch during Houston’s five-run fifth inning as the Astros beat the Mariners 7-3 on Friday night.
Seattle dropped its fifth straight against Houston in part because of an inability to finish innings, both with its pitching and when there were opportunities at the plate. The most glaring of those failures came in the fifth as Paxton leaked runs. Houston scored four times with two outs, including George Springer and Correa both scoring on wild pitches.
“We didn’t finish that inning. It’s something we’ve talked about here getting (going) in the second half, is finishing at-bats. You’ve got to finish the innings,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “You really have to finish, and we just didn’t get it done tonight. They put up a five spot and we just couldn’t overcome it.”
Paxton (2-4) was shaky from the outset, giving up a leadoff home run to George Springer. But real problems emerged in the fifth.
While Correa and Springer had the big hits, the Astros’ rally in the fifth started with consecutive doubles by Evan Gattis and Jake Marisnick. Springer scored on the second of Paxton’s three wild pitches in the inning and Correa missed a three-run homer by just a few feet, doubling off the wall in left-center field. He showed off his speed moments later scoring from second on Paxton’s final wild pitch of the inning.
“I felt like I was placing the ball too much instead of just letting it rip. I felt like I didn’t have a lot of life on my stuff tonight,” Paxton said. “I think just trying to be too perfect, hit spots, instead of just be more aggressive with my stuff.”
The Astros’ big inning offset a shaky performance from starter Doug Fister, who struggled to get through five innings. Fister (9-6) retired 12 of the first 14 batters, but gave back three runs after being staked to a 6-0 lead, two scoring on Shawn O’Malley’s double in the fifth. After walking Seth Smith, Fister broke Robinson Cano’s bat on a weak grounder back to the mound and escaped the inning.
“We had a chance. We put three up there and had a couple guys on for (Cano’s) at-bat. Couple slow curveballs and they got him out front there,” Servais said. “That’s what Fister does. He keeps you off balance. His stuff isn’t going to overpower you, but he’s smart and knows how to pitch and changes speeds well.”
Springer’s home run was his seventh in 18 career games at Safeco Field and he now has 20 homers this season, matching the career high he set in 2014. Marwin Gonzalez added a solo shot in the seventh inning.
Seattle lost shortstop Ketel Marte to a sprained right ankle in the third inning when he was thrown out sliding into third base trying to extend a double into a triple. The team said he was day-to-day.
“I feel better now. But when that happened, that was hurt,” Marte said. “I was trying to continue in the game. … It’s good to take me out and get some treatment. Tomorrow I will be better.”
Astros: OF Colby Rasmus wasn’t in the starting lineup on Friday, but manager A.J. Hinch said Rasmus is fully healthy after missing the final four games before the All-Star break due to an ear infection.
Mariners: RHP Felix Hernandez made his second rehab start in the minors. Pitching for Triple-A Tacoma, Hernandez threw 5 2/3 innings, giving up one run and five hits. He is slated to start for Seattle on July 20 against the White Sox.
Astros: Lance McCullers (4-3) looks to rebound after his shortest outing of the season in his last start. McCullers lasted just four innings last week against Oakland.
Mariners: Hisashi Iwakuma (9-6) goes for his 10th win. Iwakuma has gone 8-2 over his past 10 starts.
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