Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Smoak's HR caps 8-run 7th as Mariners beat Astros

The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon had no use for expressions about winning ugly, not after he was ejected in the seventh inning for what he deemed a legitimate protest and not after the Mariners erupted to take a commanding lead only to hold on for dear life in the eighth and ninth.

Seattle first baseman Justin Smoak walked, homered and scored twice in an eight-run seventh inning as the Mariners built a seven-run cushion in their 9-8 victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros (10-20) sent 15 batters to the plate in the seventh and eighth innings, advancing the go-ahead run into scoring position with two outs in the latter frame before Mariners closer Fernando Rodney entered and induced a fly ball to right field off the bat of second baseman Jose Altuve.

Seattle (13-15) trailed 2-1 heading into the seventh before rallying somewhat unexpectedly against Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel (2-2), who tossed just 60 pitches while cruising through his first five innings.

Keuchel issued his lone free passes to open the seventh, walking Smoak, left fielder Cole Gillespie and shortstop Brad Miller. He then ceded the mound to right-hander Jose Cisnero, who in turn aided the Seattle rally.

"I wasn't pressing at all," Keuchel said of his wayward seventh inning. "It was just one of those things where the ball had some late movement, more than the first six innings. I don't know whether that was a mechanical issue or something like that. I've got to throw more strikes."

After catcher Mike Zunino drew a bases-loaded walk that pulled Seattle even at 2-2, center fielder Michael Saunders, right fielder Stefen Romero and second baseman Robinson Cano recorded run-scoring hits in succession, with Saunders delivering a two-run double to right field.

Third baseman Kyle Seager greeted Astros left-hander Raul Valdes with an RBI double. Smoak followed with a titanic two-run homer to left field.

"We have had a habit of doing it all in one inning," Smoak said. "It was good to get something going there. We got it going, kept it going and were able to hold on there at the end."

Suddenly down seven runs, the Astros didn't go quietly. Designated hitter Chris Carter and shortstop Jonathan Villar homered as part of a four-run seventh inning before Carter added a two-out triple in the eighth, scoring third baseman Matt Dominguez, who had doubled.

Villar worked a walk two at-bats after right fielder Alex Presley singled home Carter. Rodney snuffed that comeback and then returned for the ninth inning and worked around a leadoff hit batsman to record his seventh save.

"Great response," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "Those guys, it's a credit to them. They keep plugging away. We talk about it all the time. Regardless of what happens, every at-bat counts. Grind your at-bats out. Today was a prime example of that, and we put ourselves in position to make a huge comeback."

Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (1-0) earned the victory in his first start of the season after missing the opening month with a strained tendon in his right middle finger. Iwakuma allowed four runs on six hits and one walk with three strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings, faltering only when he returned to the mound following the lengthy delay for scoring.

"I feel relieved right now," Iwakuma said. "I was very excited before the game. I was able to focus during the game and pitch my game. I'm very happy right now.

"Overall, today's game I was able to pitch well. I was able to command both sides of the plate and that helped with pretty much all my pitches."

NOTES: To make room for RHP Hisashi Iwakuma, the Mariners optioned LHP Lucas Luetge to Triple-A Tacoma. Luetge was in his second stint with the Mariners this season, recalled to Seattle on April 25. In three games with the Mariners, Luetge did not record a decision while posting a 7.71 ERA. ... Astros RF George Springer earned his first day off since his promotion on April 16. Springer hit .180/.254/.213 over his first 15 games and recorded the game-winning RBI in the series opener Friday night. ... One day after batting ninth for the first time this season, Mariners CF Abraham Almonte was benched. Almonte went 0-for-3 with two errors Friday night. He is hitting .198/.248/.292 with five errors.
Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Football
View Comments (9)