HOUSTON -- Stretched to its limits for the past week supporting a scuffling rotation, the Houston Astros' bullpen held strong on Tuesday night, preserving a 3-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park.
Houston closer Jose Veras worked a perfect ninth inning for his second save, capping the handiwork of left-hander Travis Blackley and right-hander Hector Ambriz. Aside from a home run surrendered by Blackley to Mariners designated hitter Kendrys Morales in the eighth, the Astros (6-14) received impeccable work from their relievers.
Morales' home run was only the second extra-base hit for the Mariners (8-14), who bashed three homers in their 7-1 victory on Monday night.
Astros right-hander Bud Norris (3-2) worked five wobbly innings but picked up the win over Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (2-1).
Norris labored from the start, loading the bases with two outs in the first before retiring Raul Ibanez on a sharp ground ball to shortstop Marwin Gonzalez. He lasted five innings, retiring the side in order only once, in the fourth.
However, Norris surrendered just one run, and the Astros recorded an out on that play. In the second, Endy Chavez was erased between second and third after his double scored Dustin Ackley from first.
Norris wasn't efficient, but he was effective.
The Astros offered a bizarre mix of good and bad in generating run support. Their early base running was exquisite, with catcher Jason Castro scoring from first base in the first on a two-out Chris Carter single to left field. It helped the Astros' cause that Ibanez bobbled the ball, but third base coach Dave Trembley rolled the dice waving Castro home, with the subsequent relay throw following a second too late.
After Gonzalez opened the third with a home run to right that snapped a 1-1 tie, Jose Altuve and Fernando Martinez singled in consecutive at-bats, with Altuve taking third on the Martinez hit and Martinez advancing to second on the throw to third base. The Astros fumbled an opportunity at a big inning when Castro and Carter struck out in succession, but Justin Maxwell drove home Altuve by taking a Iwakuma pitch off his left hand with the bases loaded.
Maxwell left for X-rays on his hand and Brandon Barnes replaced him in center field.
Iwakuma struck out a season-high 11 batters in five innings. He allowed three runs (two earned) but stranded five runners in scoring position.
NOTES: The Washington Nationals claimed left-hander Xavier Cedeno off waivers from Houston. The Astros designated Cedeno for assignment on April 18 after he posted an 11.37 ERA in five appearances this month. ... With his single to left field in the fifth inning, Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager extended his hitting streak to a career-best 12 games.