SEATTLE (AP) — After losing his first two starts against Houston this season, Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma got the better of the Astros on Saturday with one of his best performances of the season.
Iwakuma limited Houston to two hits in seven innings, Robinson Cano provided the only scoring with a RBI single in the sixth and the Mariners beat the Astros 1-0.
“It was payback time,” Iwakuma said through an interpreter. “They got me pretty good the last couple starts. We just knew we had to change our game plan.”
Iwakuma (10-6) won his fourth straight start to become the first Seattle pitcher to reach double-digit wins. He struck out eight and walked one as the Mariners snapped a five-game losing streak against Houston.
“Can’t say enough about our pitching today,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “I thought Iwakuma was awesome. Back and forth, really good command of all of his pitches. He elevated late in some counts, really expanded the strike zone against a really good team. Outstanding job by Kuma.”
In the sixth, Leonys Martin led off with a triple — his second extra-base hit of the game — and Cano followed with the single to left.
Houston starter Lance McCullers (4-4) was strong through the first five innings, allowing two hits and striking out five before giving up the run in the sixth. He struck out eight and walked four in 5 1/3 innings.
“We know he is a great pitcher,” Iwakuma said of McCullers. “He had pitched well against us the last time we were in Houston, so we knew it was going to be a tight ballgame. You have to be patient. Wait for that run and hope not to give up the first one, and I didn’t.”
Iwakuma allowed only a double by Jose Altuve with two outs in the first and a double by Carlos Correa in the seventh. In his last six starts, Iwakuma has pitched at least seven innings and is 5-1 during the stretch.
Correa reached third, advancing to second on a groundout following his one-out double. But Iwakuma got Colby Rasmus to ground out to Cano to end the inning.
Edwin Diaz replaced Iwakuma and left a runner stranded in the eighth. Steve Cishek pitched the ninth for his 22th save of the season.
Marwin Gonzalez led off the ninth with a double but was caught in a rundown on Altuve’s sacrifice bunt attempt. Altuve made it to second on the play and stole third with Correa at the plate, but Cishek struck out Correa and Luis Valbuena to end the game.
“At the start of the inning when you have Marwin leading off and then into the middle of our order, we felt pretty good,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “But you know obviously we couldn’t scratch across a run at any point in the game, even in the ninth.”
Cano recorded his 20th RBI of the season against the Astros with his go-ahead single in the sixth, becoming just the sixth player in Mariners history to drive in 20 or more runs against a single team.
Astros: OF Colby Rasmus returned to the lineup Saturday and started in left field after missing the last five games with an ear infection.
Mariners: Nelson Cruz was scratched from the lineup Saturday with a sore foot after fouling a ball off it Friday and is day-to-day. RHP Felix Hernandez made a rehab start Friday in Tacoma and will start for the Mariners when they face the Pirates on Wednesday.
Astros: RHP Colin McHugh (5-6, 4.50) will make his 19th start of the season in the series finale. McHugh has allowed three earned runs or fewer in five straight starts.
Mariners: LHP Mike Montgomery (3-3, 2.06) will make his second start of the season. In his first start, Montgomery allowed one run and five hits in 6 1/3 innings against the Royals.
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