SEATTLE -- Joe Saunders continued his mastery at Safeco Field on Monday night, only this time the hometown fans were on his side. And it didn't hurt that the Houston Astros were the team going against him.
Saunders, who had a 6-0 record and a 2.13 ERA as an opposing pitcher at Safeco Field, pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings for Seattle on Monday to spearhead a 3-0 win over Houston in the Mariners' home opener.
"Joe did great," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "I was glad to have a veteran guy out there (for the home opener). It was nice to see him go out and set the tone."
It marked the sixth loss in a row for the Astros, who have scored three runs or fewer in every game since the season-opening win over Texas. Houston (1-6) is batting .201 with just two home runs for the season, and Monday marked the third time this season that the Astros have been shut out.
Astros starter Philip Humber (0-2) was solid but came up short for the second time in as many outings this season, due in large part to run support. In Humber's two starts this season, the Astros have yet to score a run.
"That goes in ebbs and flows," said Humber, who gave up five hits and three runs over six innings of work Monday. "Last year, there were games when I clearly pitched bad enough to lose but got the no-decision or a win, and it's going to happen again this year. Sometimes your pitching carries you, and other nights it's your hitting that carries you."
Humber was also returning to a stadium where he'd had success, and that's putting it lightly. In his last start at Safeco Field, in April 2012, Humber pitched a perfect game against the Mariners while playing with the Chicago White Sox.
"It's something I'll never forget," said Humber, who still has the pitching rubber and rosin bag from his perfect game last spring. "To this point, it's my biggest accomplishment. It's a great atmosphere to pitch in, and I definitely heard about it from the fans (Monday night)."
Humber needed only two pitches to lose his bid Monday. The Mariners' Michael Saunders tagged Humber's second pitch to left field for a leadoff single. Michael Saunders then came around to score on a Morales single for a 1-0 Seattle lead.
Seattle's offensive duo struck again in the bottom of the third, when Morales floated a double into the left-center-field gap to score Saunders again to take a 2-0 lead. Seattle (4-4) used timely hitting and opportunistic base-running to forge a 3-0 lead after five innings.
Seattle starter Joe Saunders (1-1) wasn't perfect Monday, but he was solid enough to keep the Astros bats on ice. The veteran left-hander, who struggled in his Mariners debut last week, scattered six hits and a walk while striking out five in 6 1/3 innings of work. Relievers Carter Capps, Charlie Furbush and Tom Wilhelmsen closed out the shutout victory.
The Mariners scored their final run on a Franklin Gutierrez squeeze bunt in the bottom of the fifth, scoring Dustin Ackley from third with one out.
Gutierrez also made an impact with his glove, saving an extra-base hit with a diving catch in right-center for the first out in the top of the third inning. That was one of seven consecutive outs Joe Saunders recorded over the second, third and fourth innings as the Houston bats struggled again.
Seattle, which was marking the debut of a renovated field designed to help generate more power, had just five hits but scratched out runs with some timely contact and heady base-running. Michael Saunders followed up singles with a stolen base in the first and a wild pitch in the third, putting him into position to score on hits by Morales.
"Those are on me," Houston's Humber said. "I have to do a better job of keeping him on base next time."
Ackley's run came after a leadoff single, a Brendan Ryan bunt and a Michael Saunders flyout that got Ackley to third base. Gutierrez then laid down a bunt that resulted in a throw to home plate, but the tag was just behind Ackley as he crossed home plate.
"It was a safety squeeze, and it just played out well for us situationally," Wedge said.
The Mariners twice came close to hitting home runs over the right-field wall, but long fly balls off the bats of Morales and Kyle Seager sailed harmlessly into the stands just outside of the foul pole.
NOTES: Before the game, the Astros placed right-handed reliever Josh Fields on the 15-day disabled list due to a strained right forearm. Pitcher Paul Clemens was called up from Triple-A to take his roster spot. ... Tuesday could mark the fifth time in the first nine games of the season that Seattle has faced a left-handed starter, with former Mariner Erik Bedard scheduled to take the hill for the Astros.