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Astros' power, speed too much for Mariners

July 15, 2016

SEATTLE -- George Springer and Marwin Gonzalez supplied solo home runs and Carlos Correa ripped a two-run double as the Astros beat the Mariners for the fifth straight time with a 7-3 series-opening win Friday at Safeco Field."It was a great game, the guys coming out of the break playing

SEATTLE -- George Springer and Marwin Gonzalez supplied solo home runs and Carlos Correa ripped a two-run double as the Astros beat the Mariners for the fifth straight time with a 7-3 series-opening win Friday at Safeco Field.
"It was a great game, the guys coming out of the break playing like we did today," Correa said. "We hit very well and the pitchers did a great job and the defense was there."
Houston jumped on Seattle starter James Paxton for five runs in the fifth with three doubles and three wild pitches to open a 6-0 lead. Paxton fell to 2-4 with a 4.56 ERA as he allowed nine hits and six runs over five frames.
"I feel like I was trying to pitch like a crafty lefty instead of pitching like a power pitcher, like I am," said Paxton, whose wild pitches came on breaking balls in the dirt. "I need to embrace the fact I'm a power pitcher and not try to be too crafty. I can use that at times, but that's not who I am."
Doug Fister picked up the win with five innings of three-run ball, holding the Mariners off the board until a three-run fifth closed the gap to 6-3. Fister improved to 4-1 with a 3.46 ERA in six career starts against his former Seattle club.
"Not quite where I wanted it, but it was a team win and the guys played well," Fister said. "We were really mixing things up and attacking the zone and let that sinker work for me and get to the second time through and threw curveballs, and that works OK. Defense is the name of the game, and guys were making plays in the outfield and infield. All around a good team effort."
The Astros are now an MLB-best 32-13 since May 24 and pulled within 4 1/2 games of front-running Texas in the American League West at 49-41 to open the second half. The Mariners are four games back of Houston at 45-45 after losing their fourth game to the Astros since July 4..
Correa's mad dash: Correa pulled off an improbable feat when he scored from second base on a wild pitch by Paxton. That capped a five-run outburst for the Astros. Correa was up with the bases loaded following an intentional walk to José Altuve when Springer scored on a wild pitch, and Correa delivered a two-run double. More >
"I realized it was far enough away from me to make it to home plate, so I gave it a try and it worked out pretty well," Correa said.

Adding injury to insult: The Mariners made little headway against Fister for the first four innings and the one time they threatened, they lost both a replay review and their shortstop. Ketel Marte hurt his ankle sliding into third on an attempted triple to end the third. Marte initially was ruled safe, but the call was overturned when replay showed he was tagged in the helmet by Luis Valbuena on a throw from center fielder Carlos Gómez before his foot reached the bag. Marte tried to take the field for the top of the fourth, but clearly was hobbled and Shawn O'Malley replaced him. The Mariners are listing him day to day with a mild sprain. More >

Fister finishes fifth: Astros manager A.J. Hinch let Fister work his way out of trouble in a tenuous fifth, enabling him to earn a tough win. The Mariners tagged him for three runs in the inning and had runners at first and second with two outs when Hinch let him face left-hander Robinson Canó, whom he got to bounce out weakly to the mound for the final out.
"Cano is still the tying run there," Hinch said. "Doug was throwing the ball fine and it was moving around a little bit. For us, it was nice to be able get through the at-bat for sure."

Off the bench: Fister and the Astros bullpen held the middle of the Mariners order in check, including a combined 0-for-8 by Cano and Nelson Cruz. About the only offense Seattle mustered was a two-run double by O'Malley in the fifth as the utility infielder delivered a big hit after replacing Marte. O'Malley walked in his other plate appearance.

"He's done a really nice job for us," manager Scott Servais said. "He comes in and doesn't get overwhelmed by the situation. He just stays with his game and doesn't try to do too much. He puts a bat on the ball and good things usually happen there."
Springer's homer was the Astros' 10th leadoff homer of the season, which ties the club record set in 2001.

Kyle Seager extended his hitting streak to 14 games, the longest active string in the Majors, with a 2-for-4 night. The Mariners third baseman has hit .453 (24-for-53) with 12 extra-base hits and 12 RBIs in that span.
Hinch won a key challenge in the third inning when replays showed Marte was tagged out by Valbuena on what was originally ruled a triple. The call was overturned on replay.
"I didn't think he had a shot at it, but you never know with Gomez," Hinch said. "He can throw from anywhere on the field and something good can happen. He was right on the money. I think the accuracy was just as impressive as the velocity. That's a long throw. Valbuena with a really quick tag and thank God for replay, obviously."

Astros: Right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. (4-3, 3.79 ERA) gets the ball for the Astros in Saturday's 3:10 p.m. CT game at Safeco Field. McCullers is coming off his shortest outing of the season in giving up three runs in four innings July 9 against Oakland, but has pitched well (3-1, 2.42 ERA) in four career starts against Seattle.
Mariners:Hisashi Iwakuma (9-6, 4.25 ERA) faces the Astros for the third time this season in Saturday's 1:10 p.m. PT game at Safeco Field. The 35-year-old right-hander is 0-4 with a 7.50 ERA in his last five starts against Houston, including two losses early this year. But is is 8-2 with a 4.15 ERA in his last 10 outings for Seattle.
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Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter [

@GregJohnsMLB]() and listen to his podcast.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.