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Mariners-Astros Preview

AP - Sports

The Seattle Mariners are finding some success on the road, and perhaps some hope for the future.

The Mariners look to continue taking advantage of the Houston Astros on Saturday night in order to get their longest road winning streak in over two years.

Seattle (61-73) is headed for a fourth straight losing season, but it has shown some promise for the future while winning nine of 13 on the road.

The Mariners have won four games in a row behind a 2.25 ERA, and got the best performance on the mound of that stretch in Friday's 7-1 win at Houston.

Taijuan Walker, the club's top prospect, allowed one run and two hits in five innings of his major league debut.

Seattle is now in position to put together its longest run on the road since reeling off six straight wins from April 17-30, 2011.

Another matchup with the Astros, losers of 20 of 25 at Minute Maid Park, could be just what the Mariners need. They've won five in a row at Houston, allowing three runs and nine hits in winning the first two of this four-game set.

Seattle, though, is expected to give the ball to Joe Saunders (10-13, 5.09), who's 0-3 with an 8.31 ERA over his last four starts.

The veteran left-hander started poorly on Monday when he hit the leadoff batter en route to a two-run first inning. He was pulled after giving up five more runs over the next six in an 8-3 loss to Texas.

"It was one of those weird nights where I thought I pitched better than the results," Saunders said. "I've just been having some bad luck."

Saunders has split two starts at Houston, giving up 11 runs in 10 1-3 innings. However, he was credited with a 10-7 win in the most recent outing July 19, allowing three runs in 5 1-3 innings.

The Astros (44-90), owners of the worst record in baseball, have batted .189 and scored seven runs while losing four straight.

Juan Castro went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts Friday, but still has a .433 average in 10 games. Eight of his 13 hits in that stretch have gone for extra bases, including three homers.

The catcher is 3 for 6 with a double versus Saunders.

The Astros will turn to Dallas Keuchel (5-7, 4.82), who is 0-1 with a 4.12 ERA in three starts since returning to the rotation.

The left-hander turned in his best performance of the season Sunday, yielding four hits in seven innings before the bullpen allowed two runs in the ninth of a 2-1 loss to Toronto.

The offense let Keuchel down in his only career start versus the Mariners on June 10. He allowed two runs - one earned - in six innings while the lineup gave him one run of support in a 3-2 loss at Seattle.

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