Evan Gattis homered twice and the Houston Astros won their 10th straight game, boosting their best record in the American League and beating the Mariners 7-6 Sunday.
HOUSTON — After four days of seeing their pitching pummeled up by a plethora of home runs — each one eliciting the playing of “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” by The Gap Band in celebration — the Mariners limped out of Minute Maid Park, a beat-up and scuffling group who never want to hear that song again.
The good feelings of a three-game sweep of the Rangers to start the current road trip were buried under a barrage of long balls while being swept by the hottest team in baseball — the Houston Astros.
With a 7-6 win on Sunday, the Astros have won 10 in a row and 14 of their past 15 games. Houston (18-7) sits atop the American League West and leads the Mariners (10-15) by eight games.
Mariners @ L.A. Angels, 7:05 p.m., ROOT Sports
Of course, the decisive run came via the long ball.
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Evan Gattis hit his second home run of the game — a line-drive, solo shot over the wall in left field — to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning off reliever Carson Smith to provide the difference. It was the first run the young reliever had allowed in 20 career big-league appearances.
“I left a slider up in the zone,” Smith said. “You can’t make those mistakes late in the game. I’ll learn from it and move forward.”
Seattle, happy to face someone other than Houston, will travel to Anaheim to face the Angels for a three-game series, starting Monday. Felix Hernandez will try to stop the four-game losing streak.
In the four-game series, the Mariners were outscored 25-15 and their pitchers allowed 11 homers, which is in stark contrast to the month of April, when they allowed 14 homers — fewest in the American League.
“They played extremely well,” manager Lloyd McClendon said of the Astros. “But I will say this, we didn’t make quality pitches when we needed to. We elevated some breaking balls and they were taking advantage of them.”
Even J.A. Happ, who has been the Mariners’ best starter other than Hernandez, couldn’t stop the abuse or avoid having mistakes capitalized upon.
Happ pitched six innings, but gave up a three-run homer to Gattis in the first inning, a two-run homer to Chris Carter in the third inning and an RBI double in the fourth inning.
The home runs came on elevated change-ups over the plate.
“Two change-ups I wish I could take back,” he said. “That’s really the story of the game right there. I tried to battle as long as I could and give us some innings and limit the damage. It’s tough when you give up the two homers. Those pitches in particular, I made it easy for them. That’s tough to take.”
The Mariners did show some fight after getting down 6-1 in the fourth inning.
Seattle trimmed Houstons’ lead to 6-2 in the sixth inning.
Seth Smith tripled off Astros starter Roberto Hernandez to right-center and he trotted home when the relay throw to third base went wide and skidded into the M’s dugout.
The Mariners put up for four runs in the seventh. Back-to-back singles from Kyle Seager and Logan Morrison set up Mike Zunino’s RBI double off the wall in left field. The Astros called on lefty Tony Sipp to stop the rally. McClendon countered with right-handed swinging Rickie Weeks as a pinch-hitter. The move worked as planned. Weeks hammered a double over the head of center fielder Jake Marisnick to score two runs and cut the Astros lead to 6-5.
Weeks later scored on an error by third baseman Jonathan Villar.
Down 7-6, Weeks drew a one-out walk in the ninth inning off closer Luke Gregerson to put the tying run aboard. But Brad Miller grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.
“We swung the bats better,” McClendon said. “I’m proud of the way the guys really stepped up. This is a tough game. They could have easily just laid down. But they really fought back, and really grinded it out when things weren’t going our way. I think that shows a lot of fortitude, which leads me to believe that this team is going to be just fine.”
|After allowing the fewest homers in the AL last month, the Mariners gave up 11 to Houston in the first three games of May.|
|Past three games||11|