Astros pound M's to earn rare series win

Scott Johnson, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SEATTLE -- As the team with the worst run differential in the major leagues -- not to mention the worst record -- the Houston Astros rarely get to savor nights like Tuesday.
The Astros handed starting pitcher Jordan Lyles an early lead, and they pounded out 17 hits in a 13-2 win over the Seattle Mariners.
"It definitely is contagious," Astros manager Bo Porter said of the offensive outpouring. "You start to swing the bat, and you start to see your teammates getting hits. It's one of those things where it's almost like: pass the baton."
Lyles (7-7) allowed four hits and two runs (one earned) over six innings. The 22-year-old right-hander improved to 3-1 over his past six starts and gave the Astros back-to-back wins for only the second time this month.
Houston (49-96) also guaranteed itself of winning a series for the first time in 2 1/2 weeks, having beaten Seattle twice in a row in the three-game series that ends Wednesday night.
The Astros have won only nine series all season, and three of those have come against the Mariners (65-80).
Seattle has lost seven of 10 and is 6-13 since manager Eric Wedge returned from a month-long health hiatus on Aug. 23.
Houston's Jose Altuve had three hits, three RBIs and three stolen bases, and Chris Carter and Matt Dominguez also collected three hits apiece. L.J. Hoes and Brandon Laird each had two hits and three RBIs. Laird and Jonathan Villar homered.
"Offensively, the guys put together some quality, quality at-bats -- up and down the lineup," Porter said.
The Astros gave Lyles a 6-1 lead through three innings before piling it on late.
The Mariners didn't score again until a sixth-inning error led to an unearned run that cut Houston's lead to 6-2.
The Astros added a Laird two-run homer in the top of the seventh, a pair of bases-loaded walks in the eighth and three more runs in the ninth. By the time the game was over, only about 1,000 fans remained from the announced attendance of 10,245.
"It was just a bad day," Wedge said. "(Starter) Joe (Saunders) struggled early; the bullpen struggled late."
Saunders (11-14) gave up seven hits and six runs in just three innings.
Villar set the tone with a leadoff home run on the game's first pitch, and Hoes added an RBI single in the second inning for a 2-0 lead.
After the Mariners got one run back on a Franklin Gutierrez RBI single, the Astros pounded Saunders for four hits -- three of them doubles -- and four runs in the top of the third. Altuve had an RBI double, and he came home on a Laird single. Then Dominguez and Carter hit back-to-back doubles, with the latter driving in two runs for a 6-1 Houston lead.
"He's a good competitor," Wedge said of Saunders, "but you haven't seen the command (on his pitches)."
NOTES: Mariners RHP Brandon Maurer is scheduled to make Wednesday's start, replacing RHP Felix Hernandez. What Wedge described as "a minor oblique strain" during a weekend throwing session led to Hernandez being scratched from his turn in the rotation. Wedge said Hernandez would be further evaluated, but as of now the Seattle ace still slated to make his next start. ... During the course of Tuesday's game, the Mariners announced that SS Brendan Ryan had been traded to the New York Yankees for a player to be named. Ryan was hitting .194 and had played in only one of the Mariners' past 13 games. ... Four of Houston's eight wins over Seattle this season snapped losing streaks of three games or longer. The latest came Monday night, when the Astros beat the Mariners 6-4 to end a three-game slide.

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