Astros-Mariners Preview

After earning the first save of his career, Erik Bedard will make his first start with the Houston Astros in a familiar place.

Bedard returns to Safeco Field for the first time since he was traded away two seasons ago by the Seattle Mariners, who continue this three-game set with the struggling Astros on Tuesday night.

Houston (1-6) did not need its fifth starter until now, so Bedard (0-0, 0.00 ERA) recorded the final 10 outs of an 8-2 win over Texas on March 31 in the opener for his first save in the fourth relief appearance of his career after 189 starts.

"I got lucky," he told the Astros' official website. "I don't think I'll do any more of that. I'll probably just stick with starting."

Now the left-hander will be in the familiar role of throwing the first pitch, this time against the team with which he went 15-14 with a 3.31 ERA over 46 starts during an injury-plagued tenure between 2008-11. Seattle traded Bedard to Boston on July 30, 2011, and he went 7-14 with a 5.01 ERA in 24 starts for Pittsburgh last year.

"It will be fun," Bedard said. "I was here for a couple of years and had fun. They are good fans, good people and good teammates. I still have good friends on the team, and it will be fun."

He'll try to help the Astros end a losing streak that has reached six after Seattle (4-4) won 3-0 in its home opener Monday.

Joe Saunders lasted 6 1-3 innings and combined with three relievers to scatter seven hits. Kendrys Morales went 2 for 3 with two RBIs in his home debut for the Mariners, and he's 8 for 16 over his last four games.

"He's a very professional hitter, a smart hitter," manager Eric Wedge said.

Michael Saunders had two hits to extend his hitting streak to six games while Michael Morse went 0 for 4 to end his seven-game run.

The Astros were blanked for the third time this season. They have struck out a league-high 82 times and have drawn 10 walks to tie the Chicago White Sox for the fewest in the majors.

Making matters worse, J.D. Martinez was pulled Monday for what he called a "mental error" after popping out in the fourth inning. Martinez, who was replaced by Rick Ankiel, had been batting cleanup for the first time.

The Astros will get their first look at rookie starter Brandon Maurer (0-1, 9.00), who will make his home debut for Seattle. His big-league debut was less than successful as he gave up six runs over six innings last Thursday in an 8-2 defeat at Oakland.

"I know what I need to learn now," Maurer said. "I know some things I need to work on, so I'll take that. I think I'll be a little more comfortable the next time."

The 22-year-old right-hander was much better in the spring, posting a 1.50 ERA to lead the Cactus League over seven appearances. He was the Southern League's Most Outstanding Pitcher last season at Double-A Jackson, going 9-2 with a 3.20 ERA in 24 starts.

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