The Mariners had finally figured out Zack Greinke.
In the end, they still couldn’t figure out how to win a game in Houston.
A rare error by Evan White, the Mariners’ Gold Glove first baseman, opened the door for the Astros to rally for four runs in the eighth inning in their 7-5 come-from-behind victory over the Mariners on Wednesday night, extending Seattle’s misery at Minute Maid Park.
The Mariners (13-12) have lost four in a row on this road trip and 19 of their past 20 games in Houston.
“That one — that one stings a little bit,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said in the opening remarks of his postgame virtual call.
The Astros (13-11) scored four runs in the eighth inning off Mariners reliever Rafael Montero to erase a 5-3 deficit. Just two of those four runs were earned after White’s wild throw to second base early in the inning allowed Kyle Tucker to score to get Houston within one run.
White made only one error in 54 games as a rookie in 2020 en route to winning a Gold Glove award. His errant throw Wednesday was his second error already this season. He went 0 for 4 at the plate, lowering his batting average to .164, which will surely prompt more discussion about whether he might be better served spending some time in the minor leagues when the Class AAA season begins next week.
“This guy’s a heck of a defender — he’s the best in the league,” Servais said. “It even happens to the best in the league sometimes. Errors happen; they’re part of the game. You certainly don’t expect them from a guy the caliber of player that Evan is … but you learn from it and he’ll be fine. He knows he screwed up and it’s part of the game.”
After White’s error, the Astros scored the tying run when pinch hitter Aledmys Diaz singled off Montero to score Yuli Gurriel from second.
The Mariners then called on Will Vest, their Rule 5 right-hander, to pitch with the bases loaded and one out. Vest walked pinch hitter Jason Castro on a 3-2 fastball that missed badly, allowing the go-ahead run to score.
Jose Altuve then hit a sacrifice fly to make it 7-5.
Servais said he was saving Kendall Graveman, the Mariners’ best reliever, for the save situation in the ninth inning — a save situation that never materialized.
“I thought, up until the eighth inning, we did a lot of really good things tonight,” Servais said. “We swung the bats much better. … Unfortunately, the eighth inning got away from us. You’ve got to credit the Astros. They’re tough in this ballpark. If you give a team like that a crack in the doorway, they slam right through it.”
The Mariners managed just two hits in a 2-0 loss to Houston on Tuesday.
They finally got to Greinke in the third inning Wednesday. They hit the Astros’ veteran ace with four runs over the next two innings — just 11 days after Greinke’s masterful outing against the Mariners in Seattle.
Luis Torrens busted out of his anemic April with two extra-base hits — including his first home run of the season — and J.P. Crawford came through with a run-scoring double.
Kyle Lewis hit a solo home run in the fifth inning to make it 5-2, his second homer of the season. He hit his first Monday in Houston.
“Good signs offensively,” Servais said.
The loss wasted a solid start from young right-hander Justin Dunn, who allowed three runs in 5.2 innings, his longest outing of the season. He was pulled after 84 pitches.
Dunn has allowed three runs or less in all four of his starts, emerging as one of the team’s most pleasant surprises in the opening month. He’ll take a 3.98 ERA into May.
“I like where I’m at,” Dunn said. “I’m definitely not going to be complacent. I’m going to try to get better. Like I said, I really haven’t had put-away stuff yet this year, so continue to work on that and stay with the mentality of attacking and try to throw in the strike zone and let my guys play behind me.”
— Right fielder Mitch Haniger was a late scratch from Wednesday’s lineup. “He didn’t feel 100% today. He thought he was dragging a little bit,” Servais said. “So I went ahead and made the call to scratch him. I think we do need to be very disciplined and understand where he’s at (physically) as he makes his comeback after being out so long. I’ll take the heat on that one. That was my call. It’s not worth it to push it.”
— An MRI on left-hander Nick Margevicius’ shoulder revealed inflammation, Servais said. Margevicius will need further testing on his shoulder when the Mariners return to Seattle.
The Mariners made several transactions on Wednesday:
— They claimed catcher Jacob Nottingham off waivers from Milwaukee. To make room, they designated RHP Brandon Brennan for assignment. Nottingham, 26, joins his fourth organization. A fourth-round pick of the Astros in 2013, he has just 85 career plate appearances in the big leagues, posting a slash line of .203/.306/.432 with five home runs. He is out of minor-league options.
— They also acquired minor-league RHP Leon Hunter from the Texas Rangers for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Hunter, 24, was a 35th-round draft pick in 2019 out of North Carolina A&T. He last pitched for Spokane in the short-season Class A Northwest League in 2019, after spending the majority of that season in the Arizona rookie league.