Mariners-Astros Preview

The Associated Press

Even a rare victory for the Houston Astros didn't come without bad news.

After losing an everyday player to injury in Tuesday's win over the Seattle Mariners, they'll turn to Lucas Harrell on Wednesday at Minute Maid Park as they seek only their second series win of the season.

Center fielder Justin Maxwell is out indefinitely for Houston (6-14) as he was placed on the disabled list following Tuesday's 3-2 win after being hit by a pitch in the third inning.

"I have to see the hand specialist tomorrow," said Maxwell, one of four Astros to start every game thus far. "But at least we got the win out of it.

Maxwell was hit with the bases loaded, so he can at least say he got credit for bringing home what turned out to be the winning run.

Bud Norris gave up a run in five innings, but it's been eight games since Houston has had a starter make it through six. The rotation has a 12.77 ERA in that stretch.

Harrell (1-2, 4.98 ERA), who didn't face the Mariners when Houston took two of three in Seattle earlier this month, has made it through 5 2-3 in his last two outings. He walked five and allowed five hits Friday against Cleveland, but gave up only two runs in a 3-2 victory.

The right-hander is walking 5.40 batters per nine innings, one of the majors' 10 worst rates.

"I was struggling to throw strikes again, it's just kind of been a trend right now,'' Harrell said. "It's something I need to work on between starts and definitely focus on that."

Harrell may not exactly have his work cut out for him as he takes on a Seattle offense that has been anemic. Tuesday marked the sixth time in eight games the Mariners (8-14) were limited to two runs or fewer, and the team is batting .226 on the season.

Seattle is 6 for 37 (.162) with runners in scoring position as it's dropped four of five on this road trip.

"I do think we have guys heading in the right direction," manager Eric Wedge said. "That is obvious by the quality of the at-bats. Having said that, it's all about winning and losing, and we have to do a better job of finding a way to win ballgames."

Before returning home, the Mariners give the ball to Joe Saunders (1-2, 4.50), who has already stifled Houston once. He threw 6 1-3 shutout innings against the Astros on April 8, limiting them to one hit, but was shelled by the Rangers on Friday for seven runs on nine hits in 4 2-3 innings.

Walks also have been a serious issue for Saunders, who's 1-0 with a 3.26 ERA in three starts against the Astros. He's yielded 10 in 22 innings - including two in a six-run fifth against Texas.

Both offenses continue to see individual bright spots with Seattle's Kyle Seager and Houston's Marwin Gonzalez. Seager has hit safely in a career-best 12 games, going 17 for 45 (.378) in that span with seven doubles, two homers, and eight RBIs. Before that, he was 5 for 34 (.147) in nine games.

Gonzalez connected for a solo homer on Tuesday, his third this year in 45 at-bats. He totaled two all of last year in 205 ABs.

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