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By Scott Johnson, The Sports Xchange September 12, 2013 1:52 AM
Houston Astros if they weren't in a big hurry to get away of this part of the country late Wednesday night.SEATTLE -- Forgive the
Grabbing another early lead and getting another strong performance from a starting pitcher, the Astros earned their first series sweep since mid-June by beating the Seattle Mariners 6-1. Houston (50-96) has won six of nine games at Safeco Field. Inside a jovial visiting clubhouse late Wednesday night, third baseman Matt Dominguez could only shrug when asked about his team's success in Seattle this season. "I don't know why we play well here," he said. The Astros finished the three-game series with 25 runs and 36 hits. Over the final 19 innings, Houston outscored Seattle 23-4. The Astros scored the first five runs of Wednesday's game and never looked back, thanks to a second consecutive effective outing from Brad Peacock. Peacock (5-5) allowed one run on three hits over six innings, following a similar outing from starter Jordan Lyles the previous night. "Our starting pitching has been outstanding," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "When you pitch well and you swing the bats (to) give those guys a little cushion, it allows them to attack the (strike) zone that much more." Peacock said the five-run lead made it easier for him to pitch. "It definitely helped," he said. "It was relaxing." Josh Zeid pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings for his first save. The only damage the Mariners' offense did came when Kendrys Morales took Peacock deep for a leadoff home run in the fourth inning. Dominguez had two doubles, and Jonathan Villar, Marc Krauss and Jimmy Paredes added two hits apiece for the Astros. Chris Carter contributed a two-run single as part of Houston's 11-hit attack. The Mariners (65-81) had a players-only meeting after Tuesday night's 13-2 loss, but it didn't result in improved offense. Seattle had just five hits while suffering its third sweep in the four home series since manager Eric Wedge returned from a stroke on Aug. 23. Since Wedge's return, Seattle is 6-14. "What I don't like seeing is the same thing over and over and over again," Wedge said. "And with a few guys, that's what I'm seeing right now. What you need to see is progress." Coming off a 17-hit performance Tuesday, the Astros started hot again Wednesday. Houston tagged Seattle starter Brandon Maurer (4-8) for seven hits while jumping out to a 5-0 lead over the first three innings. Doubles by Dominguez and Krauss pushed across the first run of the game in the top of the second, and then Carlos Corporan drove in Krauss with an RBI single for a 2-0 lead. The Astros added three more with a two-out rally in the third, when Brett Wallace's RBI single was followed by a two-run hit from Carter to give Houston a 5-0 advantage. Maurer, who was making his first start since May 30 after being converted to a reliever, became the second consecutive Seattle starter not to get past the third inning. He gave up five runs off seven hits in three innings, one night after Joe Saunders got touched up for seven hits and six runs over three innings. "He's a young pitcher with a great arm (and) great stuff," Wedge said of Maurer. "I just think he's going to have to learn to be the same guy when things aren't going well for him as he is when things are going well for him. That's the biggest thing with him." NOTES: Maurer was starting Wednesday night's game as a fill-in for RHP Felix Hernandez, who is skipping this start because of a strained oblique muscle. ... Morales' homer was the 100th of his career. ... Houston SS Jonathan Villar's stolen base in the top of the third inning was his third in two nights and the sixth by an Astros player against Mariners C Mike Zunino, who didn't throw out a baserunner in the series. ... The only other parks where the Astros own a winning record this season, including their own, are Coors Field (2-0) and Angel Stadium (7-3). ... Both Seattle and Houston are off Thursday. The Astros host the Los Angeles Angels on Friday, while the Mariners will open a series Friday against the Cardinals in St. Louis.