HOUSTON (AP) – Not many pitchers have been able to slow down the Houston Astros this season.
James Paxton has done it repeatedly.
Paxton had another strong start against Houston and rookie Ben Gamel powered the offense with a two-run homer to give the Seattle Mariners a 4-1 victory over the Astros on Wednesday.
“Paxton was outstanding today,” manager Scott Servais said. “It’s exactly what the doctor ordered. He was on top of his game.”
Paxton (9-3) allowed six hits and one run in seven innings, after not allowing a run in his previous two starts against Houston this season. It’s the fourth straight win for Paxton, who struck out seven.
“He’s really good,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. “His arm strength is at the top end of left-handed starters in the league … a lot of the story today is just about how good he was. We couldn’t quite break out and have a big inning against him.”
Wednesday’s performance improved Paxton to 2-0 with a 0.45 ERA and 20 strikeouts against the AL West-leading Astros this year.
“This was a big series for us and a big road trip, we went five out of six,” Paxton said. “That’s awesome coming out of the break so we’ve just got to keep it going here and keep ourselves in this race.”
Houston starter Charlie Morton (7-4) retired the first nine batters and the Astros led 1-0 before Jean Segura led off the fourth with a single. Gamel’s first homer since June 23 came next to put Seattle up 2-1.
Segura had two hits and Robinson Cano and Mike Zunino drove in a run apiece for the Mariners, who won for the sixth time in seven games. Edwin Diaz pitched a scoreless ninth for his 18th save.
The Astros had a chance to cut into the lead in the eighth when they had runners at first and third with one out. But Nick Vincent struck out Evan Gattis before Marc Rzepczynski fanned Carlos Beltran to end the inning.
Morton allowed six hits and four runs in 6 2/3 innings for his first loss since coming off the disabled list on July 7.
Guillermo Heredia doubled to start the sixth before Segura reached on an infield single. Then an error by first baseman Yuli Gurriel allowed Gamel to reach and load the bases with no outs.
The Mariners pushed the lead to 3-1 when Heredia scored on a groundout by Cano that left Gamel out at second. Morton was able to limit the damage when Nelson Cruz grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Zunino’s RBI double with two outs in the seventh pushed the lead to 4-1 and chased Morton.
Alex Bregman singled with no outs in the third, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and stole third base. Houston took a 1-0 lead when he scored on a sacrifice fly by George Springer.
Mariners: OF Mitch Haniger was out for the fourth straight game after injuring his right index finger on Saturday night. Servais had initially said that Haniger would play on Wednesday, but decided to give him an extra day to recover.
Astros: All-Star SS Carlos Correa announced in an Instagram post from his hospital bed that he had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb on Wednesday. Correa is expected to be out 6 to 8 weeks recovering from the injury he suffered on a swing Monday night. … Ace Dallas Keuchel, who hasn’t pitched since June 2 because of a pinched nerve in his neck, will make his second rehabilitation start on Saturday, but the Astros haven’t decided where it will be yet.
THEY SAID IT
Servais on Seattle’s 5-1 road trip: “We talked about some things out of the break where we needed to get to and how we were going to get there and the guys have responded.”
DIG IT UP
Two days after the Astros held a fake funeral to bury Beltran’s glove because he hadn’t played in the field in two months, he was in the lineup in left field. The 40-year-old has played in 78 games this season, but Wednesday was just the 10th time he didn’t serve as the team’s designated hitter and the first since May 16 in Miami.
Mariners: Felix Hernandez (5-3, 4.20 ERA) will start for Seattle in the opener of a four-game series against the Yankees on Thursday. Hernandez allowed six hits and three runs in five innings of a 4-3 win over the White Sox in his previous start.
Astros: Houston is off on Thursday before opening a three-game series at Baltimore on Friday with Mike Fiers (6-4, 3.75 ERA) on the mound. He allowed four hits and two runs while striking out a season-high 11 in seven innings of a 5-3 win over Minnesota in his previous start.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.