The M’s get their bats working in time to salvage a game against the Astros, setting up a series that will go a long way toward deciding their playoff future.

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The Mariners are two games behind in the wild-card standings with three games coming up against the team directly ahead of them.

By refinding the offense that has been solid for much of the season but absent for the previous two games, and getting another solid outing from Ariel Miranda, the Mariners defeated the Houston Astros 7-3 Sunday.

It moved them up a game in the wild-card standings, directly behind the Toronto Blue Jays, who visit Monday. It sets up three of the most important games to be played at Safeco Field in recent years.


Toronto Blue Jays @ Mariners, 7:10 p.m., ROOT Sports

“Everything gets magnified at the end,” third baseman Kyle Seager said. “We’ve got a big series coming up.”

The Mariners’ win over the Astros helped salvage something from an otherwise frustrating series and improve their record to 79-70.

“We needed a win,” manager Scott Servais said. “The last couple days got away from us and we got back on the right track.”

The Mariners’ offense found its way after mustering just one run in the previous 18 innings and three runs in the previous 30 innings.

Following Seattle’s 2-1 loss on Saturday night, Servais promised that his team’s offense would show up Sunday. And it did, banging out 12 hits and putting up better at-bats.

“We’ve got a veteran crew and they do know how to make adjustments,” Servais said. “And they’ve been around long enough to get a feel for what the other team is trying to do. We had a lot of big hits today.”

It started with Kyle Seager’s first-inning, two-run double to right-center off Astros’ starter Doug Fister, which doubled the amount of runs they had scored in the previous two games against Astros pitching.

“It was huge,” Servais said. “It allowed everybody to relax a little.”

Seager worked a 2-0 count and hammered a fastball over the head of right fielder George Springer to score Seth Smith and Nelson Cruz.

“It was good to get on the board early, especially when he hadn’t mustered too much against them the last two nights,” Seager said.

Since Aug. 6, Seager has hits in 18 of his last 20 games and is hitting .400 with three doubles, five homers and 15 RBI.

The Mariners weren’t satisfied with the accomplishment of two runs, continuing to add to their total throughout the game, thanks in large part to Seth Smith.

The veteran left-handed hitter belted a solo homer in the third inning and a three-run homer in the Mariners’ four-run fourth inning to give Seattle a 7-1 lead.

Smith worked 3-1 counts twice on Fister and unleashed on fastballs for his 15th and 16th homers. He had been 0 for 10 against Fister coming into the game.

“That’s the goal,” Smith said. “Guys that know what they are doing and are able to pitch to the corners. You want to be able, if you can, to take the close ones and try to get into a hitter’s count where they have to come after you.”

Of his 16 homers, 12 have come at Safeco Field this season.

Miranda pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on three hits with a walk and a career-high eight strikeouts to improve to 5-1.

“Heck of an outing,” Servais said. “Miranda is on a nice little roll and we’ve certainly needed it.”

Given a 2-0 lead, Miranda gave a run right back in third inning on a two-out homer by Springer. Undaunted, Miranda came back to retire 11 straight batters before Carlos Correa hit a solo homer in the seventh to make it 7-2.

Houston tacked on a run against the Mariners’ bullpen, specifically Tom Wilhelmsen, in the eighth inning. But Steve Cishek stopped any further damage, getting Jose Altuve to ground out to end the inning, stranding a pair of runners in scoring position.

Edwin Diaz worked a 1-2-3 ninth in the non-save situation.

AL wild-card race
Top two teams face off in the postseason:
Team W-L GB
Baltimore 82-67 +1
Toronto 81-68
Seattle 79-70 2
Detroit 79-70 2
Houston 78-71 3
Yankees 77-71 3.5
Kansas City 76-73 5