HOUSTON -- Houston right-hander Lucas Harrell has a reputation for working quickly, and, when his sinking fastball is inducing grounders at a steady clip, for settling into grooves that can be difficult to disrupt.
Harrell pitched briskly and effectively Wednesday, and the Astros' makeshift lineup proved productive in a 10-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners, the rubber match of a three-game set at Minute Maid Park.
With center fielder Justin Maxwell sidelined by a broken left hand and regulars Jason Castro, Marwin Gonzalez and Rick Ankiel sitting against Seattle left-hander Joe Saunders, Houston (7-14) received contributions from reserves Ronny Cedeno and Brandon Barnes as well as newcomer Robbie Grossman, who made his major league debut spelling Maxwell.
"I try to keep everybody as fresh as possible," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "You don't want guys sitting on the bench and not playing for a week at a time. That's why we try to take every opportunity that we have to make sure that the guys that are not playing every day, that you get them some at-bats here and there so that they stay fresh. You never know what can happen in any scenario."
Cedeno continued his torrid hitting against southpaws, finishing 3-for-3 with a double and a three-run home run against Saunders. Cedeno is batting .529 with three extra-base hits against left-handers this season.
Barnes went 2-for-4 from the No. 9 hole, while Grossman bumped Jose Altuve from the leadoff spot and had two hits, both doubles. He became just the second Astros player with at least two doubles in his debut, joining James Mouton, who did so against the Montreal Expos on April 4, 1994.
"I was happy," Grossman said. "I was just excited that I got the opportunity to play in the big leagues and I got a hit, even better."
Brandon Laird (3-for-4, four RBIs) and Chris Carter also hit home runs for the Astros. Carter tied Ankiel for the club lead with his fifth in the second inning.
Harrell (2-2) scuffled a bit in his first two innings, needing 46 pitches while stranding three baserunners without giving up a run. But Harrell found a groove with his sinker and recovered to face the minimum over his next three innings. Then, after surrendering a run on Kendrys Morales' double-play grounder in the sixth, he retired the final four batters he faced.
Harrell turned a 10-1 lead over to the bullpen after working seven innings, allowing one run, six hits and two walks with five strikeouts.
"After the first couple of innings, I told (Astros pitching coach Doug Brocail), I said, 'I've gotten away from being aggressive, so I need to attack more.' Strike one was huge today. That was my main goal, to attack and be aggressive and get strike one."
Saunders (1-3) wasn't nearly as effective, surrendering two of the Astros' three home runs. And the Mariners' offense, seemingly engaged after supplying ace Felix Hernandez with ample run support in the series opener Monday night, was absent for second consecutive game.
"I mean, it was, it was just a bad day," said Saunders, who allowed eight runs on 11 hits in five-plus innings. "That is all I want to say."
After producing just two extra-base hits on Tuesday night, Seattle (8-15) didn't came up with its first until the ninth when first baseman Justin Smoak hit his first home run. Dustin Ackley added a double, but those hits were mere window dressing for an offense that continues to slump.
"It's frustrating," Ackley said. "Everybody hates to lose. When you feel like you have chances with guys on base in certain situations, you want to rally. But when you end up hitting into a double play or popping out, it's frustrating. You want success, but it is just not falling our way right now."
NOTES: Mariners center fielder Michael Saunders played catch and took batting practice again Wednesday, and he appears set to begin a rehab assignment this weekend. Saunders (sprained AC joint in right shoulder) is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list Friday. ... The Mariners are scheduled to face three left-handers in their next five games. Seattle is averaging 4.8 runs per game against left-handers as opposed to 2.71 runs per game against right-handed starters. ... The Astros have hit 25 home runs in 21 games. Last season, they hit just 14 in April (23 games). ... By taking two of three from Seattle, the Astros won a home series for the first time this season.