Mariners 5, Astros 0

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SEATTLE (AP)—Clint Nageotte has a slider that often morphs into a curveball. And now he might have slid into a spot in the Seattle rotation.

The rookie right-hander pitched six shutout innings in his first major league start, leading the Seattle Mariners to a 5-0 win over the Houston Astros on Monday night.

“You could tell this kid’s aggressive,” manager Bob Melvin said. “He looks effectively wild at times. He’ll throw some balls where you don’t really expect them, way out of the zone.”

The 23-year-old Nageotte (1-1) was a top Mariners prospect last year after leading the Double-A Texas League with 157 strikeouts. He was solid all night, allowing six hits with eight strikeouts and three walks.

“I’ve been told I had good enough stuff to pitch in the big leagues,” Nageotte said. “I just had to control my emotions and be a pitcher instead of a thrower. I wanted to work on my composure, my presence on the mound, more than anything.”

Scott Spiezio had a solo homer, two singles and two RBIs to break an 0-for-23 skid as the Mariners scored three runs off Brandon Duckworth (1-1) in only one-third of an inning, the shortest outing of his career.

“It was nice to get some hits,” Spiezio said. “It’s crazy that you can go 23 at-bats and not get a hit, then get three in a row.”

Seattle had 11 hits and won its third straight.

Houston’s Jeff Kent singled in the fifth, extending his career-high hitting streak to 22 games. That matched Carlos Lee of the Chicago White Sox for the longest current streak in the majors.

Nageotte was called up from the minors May 28 and his start broke up Seattle’s regular rotation for the first time since Ismael Valdes pitched for the Mariners on Sept. 29, 2002.

Last year, Seattle became the first team since the 1966 Dodgers to use only five starters. Meche was joined by Jamie Moyer, Joel Pineiro, Freddy Garcia and Ryan Franklin.

Melvin will meet with pitching coach Bryan Price and team officials Tuesday to chart a course for the rotation, determining whether Nageotte will stay longer and what it means for Meche.

“I don’t know how I can send him down right now,” Melvin said. “We’ll see where we’re at. We’ll talk about what we need to do, as far as where the rotation is going. We have a couple different scenarios set up and we’ll discuss it.”

Nageotte gave up a single to Craig Biggio leading off the game. But he settled in after that, using a 93 mph fastball and a tricky, big-breaking curve to keep the Astros in check.

“I changed speeds with it,” Nageotte said. “It’s really just a breaking ball. We call it a slider, but sometimes I change it into more of a curveball.”

He faced a jam in the third. Nageotte got Biggio swinging with two runners on base, then got a groundout by Adam Everett, and loaded the bases with a two-out walk to Jeff Bagwell.

Nageotte stayed cool and struck out Kent on a breaking ball. Kent was so frustrated that he stepped out of the batter’s box and threw his bat into the netting near the Houston dugout.

“He shut us down,” Kent said. “I don’t think he had great command of his pitches. He was throwing the ball all over the plate, which made it hard for us to pattern. He was throwing strikes and getting us to swing.”

Julio Mateo pitched three scoreless innings for his first save.

Seattle led 3-0 early, using RBI singles by John Olerud, Bret Boone and Spiezio to chase Duckworth.

“I kept falling behind, just missing,” Duckworth said. “Anytime you do that, you take yourself out of the game.”

It was 4-0 in the third after Rich Aurilia’s RBI double scored Jolbert Cabrera. Spiezio made it 5-0 in the fifth, lining a shot to right field offPete Munro.

Notes

Seattle has two shutouts. Houston has been shut out twice. … Biggio made a diving catch to end the first, denying Aurilia of a likely two-run single. … Mariners RF Ichiro Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a second-inning single. He robbed Houston LF Lance Berkman with a sliding catch in right in the second. … The crowd of 28,556 pushed Seattle over 1 million fans for the season, the third AL team to reach the mark behind NewYork and Anaheim.

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