HOUSTON — For the second consecutive game the Mariners lost in walk-off fashion to the Astros. Both in extra innings. And both times Yuli Gurriel drove in the game-winning run.
Gurriel doubled in Michael Brantley from second base in the 10th inning off Roenis Elias (2-1), giving the Astros a 6-5 win on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.
“We’ve had tight games against the Astros this year,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We competed our tail off.”
Tim Beckham, Domingo Santana and Daniel Vogelbach all homered for the Mariners. But it wasn’t enough. Even on a night when Houston ace Justin Verlander wasn’t extremely sharp.
Seattle led 2-0, came back from a three-run, second-inning deficit to even the score. But the Mariners couldn’t regain the lead against the Astros, who scored five runs in the second to go ahead 5-2.
“We got behind with the big second inning they put up,” Servais said. “And we battled back on Verlander and got him out of the game. Big home runs to get us back in there.”
The Mariners are 1-8 versus the Astros this season, despite only being outscored 48-43. Seattle has lost three in a row but are still 6-4 in their last 10 games.
“We’ve been playing really good,” Vogelbach said. “That’s a really good team over there and it shows how far we’ve come and where we’re going because that’s been one of the best teams in baseball for a couple of years now.
“And that’s back-to-back games we’ve given them everything they can handle. This what that everybody envisioned that we could be and are going to be.”
Gurriel’s 10th-inning home run won Friday’s game 2-1.
Vogelbach’s 20th homer tied the game 5-5 in the seventh. His solo homer to left-center off Ryan Pressly came on a 2-2 pitch with two outs.
Beckham got it started. Beckham launched a two-run home run in the second, the first of two home runs that Verlander would allow, giving the Mariners a 2-0 lead. It was the 22nd home run allowed by Verlander, a seven-time All-Star, who has given up a home run in all but two of his 18 starts.
Yusei Kikuchi needed only eight pitches in a 1-2-3 first inning. But in the second, six of the first seven batters reached base as the Astros put up a five spot. The left-hander threw 39 pitches in the inning with the biggest hit being Jake Marisnick’s two-run double down the left-field line.
Only three of the runs in the second were earned. A potential inning-ending double play failed to materialize when a grounder went under the glove of second baseman Dee Gordon, who made a costly error. An inning later Gordon would make a mental error.
Gordon, who singled in the third in his only at-bat, was lifted for pinch hitter Mac Williamson in the fourth. In the bottom of the third Gordon failed to cover second base on a ball hit in the hole to the right of shortstop J.P. Crawford that resulted in an infield single. Williamson stayed in the game in left field, moving Dylan Moore to second base.
Servais said he took Gordon out of the game because a quad strain was bothering him.
Santana took over the American League lead with his 61st RBI on a groundout in the third that trimmed the deficit to 5-3. The former Astro hit his 18th home run of the season off Verlander to right-center field that got the Mariners to within 5-4 for his 62nd RBI.
Seattle’s 148 home runs are second in the major leagues, trailing only Minnesota (156), which homered five times in Saturday’s 10-3 win at the White Sox.
The Mariners couldn’t take advantage of a shaky Verlander, who labored through the final four of his five innings. Through four innings Verlander had used 89 pitches. The right-hander left the game after throwing 100 pitches, yielding four runs, four walks and two of the five hits he allowed went deep.
Kikuchi also went five innings. The only five runs he allowed were in the second, when he didn’t receive much defensive support. Kikuchi gave up six hits, walking three with five strikeouts, and hitting a batter. Kikuchi did walk the first two batters in the inning, and the Astros got a hit on a chopper over Vogelbach’s head at first base.
“The balls were finding holes, an infield single in there, so I felt the momentum was swinging their way,” Kikuchi said through a translator. “But the first two hitters, I shouldn’t have walked them.
“I ran into trouble in the second inning, but I opened the game strong. Three, four, five innings were actually good too, so I feel like this is something I can build on.”
Kyle Seager returned to the Mariners lineup at third base after missing the previous three games with a sore right hand. Seager went 0 for 4 with a walk, scoring on Beckham’s homer.