SEATTLE (AP) — Mariners manager Scott Servais was blunt in his assessment of his team’s performance in a lopsided series-ending loss to Houston, the team directly ahead of them in the A.L. West.
Seattle committed four errors, walked four, and left 10 runners on, including leaving the bases-loaded in the first and third inning, en route to an 8-1 loss to the Astros on Sunday.
“That’s the worst game we’ve played all year,” Servais said. “Messed up six or seven plays in the field today. We played a terrible ball game. There’s no way you can sugarcoat that.”
Jose Altuve homered among his four hits and drove in three runs and Collin McHugh escaped a pair of bases-loaded jams to pitch six scoreless innings to drop the third-place Mariners four games behind Houston.
Altuve had a two-run homer and three singles in five at-bats to raise his American League-leading average to .346. McHugh (6-6) allowed four hits and walked four, striking out 10 to win for the first time in eight starts since his last victory on May 30.
Carlos Gomez added his second career grand slam in the seventh inning off Nathan Karns to put the Astros up 8-0.
Kyle Seager singled home Seattle’s only run in the eighth off Chris Devenski.
Mike Montgomery (3-4), making his second start this season after 30 relief appearances, allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings, walking two and striking out seven.
Altuve had the green light on a 3-0 pitch in the third and delivered his 15th homer to follow Marwin Gonzalez’s leadoff double, putting Houston up 3-0.
“Altuve’s a good hitter, and he had some good swings on me today,” Montgomery said. “I didn’t do a good job. He’s 3-0, he’s going to swing. I gave him a pitch to hit. In that situation, it’s okay to put him on base there, and I kind of made a mistake there and it cost me.”
The Astros made it 4-0 in the fifth when Gonzalez again doubled to open the inning, took third on a throwing error by center fielder Leonys Martin, and scored on Altuve’s single to left.
The Astros hustled across an unearned run in the first. Gonzalez reached on a fielder’s choice and Altuve singled. Gonzalez stole third and continued around on an error by third baseman Seager, who misplayed the throw from catcher Jesus Sucre.
McHugh escaped a pair of bases-loaded situations without allowing a run.
In the first, Seager’s one-out drive to right with the bases loaded barely hooked foul. Seager then struck out and Dae-Ho Lee bounced back to the mound.
“The first jam we were in, Seager’s ball’s a couple feet foul, otherwise it’s a completely different game,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “Fun win to say the least, but a unique way to do it.”
In the third, the Mariners loaded the bases with no outs on a walk to Martin, a pop single by Robinson Cano on an overturned call and Nelson Cruz’s single to the base of the wall in right-center. McHugh struck out Seager and then enticed Lee into an inning-ending double-play bouncer to second.
“It was a long run for (center fielder Carlos) Gomez to get to that ball,” Servais said. “It’s certainly a play where the ball hits of the wall you should score on.”
Seattle has lost six of its last seven against Houston and scored just five runs in losing two of three in this series. The Mariners failed to capitalize on seven walks by Houston pitchers on Sunday and hit into five double plays.
“Our offense needed to get it going today and get us back in the game. Unfortunately it didn’t happen,” Servais said. “We had guys on base. … We had (McHugh) on the ropes a couple times early, and just couldn’t push anything across.”
ALTUVE MISSES FIFTH HIT
Altuve, who struck out in his final at-bat, has 17 four-hit games in his career, but never a five-hit game. “The elusive fifth hit is hard for him,” Hinch said, “It’s a funny thing to say, because the first four aren’t very easy for anybody but Altuve.”
Astros: SS Correa was hit by a pitch in the seventh. He stayed in the game, but was replaced by a pinch-hitter A.J Reed in the eighth. “Correa’s fine. I took him out because I wanted Reed to get an at-bat and steal a couple innings of rest for him,” Hinch said.
Mariners: SS Ketel Marte and OF Nelson Cruz both returned to the lineup after missing Saturday’s game. Marte injured his ankle Friday night and Cruz fouled a ball off the top of his left foot.
Astros: RHP Mike Fiers (6-3, 4.35 ERA) opens the three-game series at Oakland. Fiers allowed four earned in runs in 3 1/3 innings with a no-decision in his last start prior to the All-Star break, but he has not lost in seven starts since May 27.
Mariners: LHP Wade LeBlanc (1-0, 3.52 ERA) makes his fourth start since being acquired in a trade with Toronto to open the three-game series against the White Sox at Safeco Field. He pitched six innings in each of his first two starts, but allowed five runs and six hits in 3 1/3 innings in his last start, a no-decision against the Astros.
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