SEATTLE -- Not much is coming easy for the Astros these days. Even after jumping to an eight-run lead on the Mariners on Wednesday afternoon, the Astros had to hold off a late Seattle rally to win consecutive games for the first time in two weeks.Martin Maldonado and Tyler White
SEATTLE -- Not much is coming easy for the Astros these days. Even after jumping to an eight-run lead on the Mariners on Wednesday afternoon, the Astros had to hold off a late Seattle rally to win consecutive games for the first time in two weeks.
Martin Maldonado and Tyler White each collected three hits, including a homer, to help the Astros outslug the Mariners, 10-7, to take two out of three at Safeco Field. The Astros, combined with the A's loss to the Rangers, opened up a one-game lead in the American League West.
"The caliber of baseball in tight games is good," said Astros outfielder Tony Kemp, who tallied three hits. "We're playing well right now and can't say enough about what the guys have been doing."
The bottom four hitters in Houston's lineup -- Yuli Gurriel, Josh Reddick, Maldonado and Kemp -- went a combined 9-for-18 with six runs. The Astros recorded 17 hits, including 12 singles, to improve to 14-4 in their last 18 games in Seattle.
"Everybody's really contributing," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "You look at what Tony Kemp is doing, you look at what Tyler White is doing, Maldonado has come over and provided a nice spark for us on both sides. … The bottom half of our order today put up incredibly good at-bats. We know the guys in the middle of the order are going to be there. That's a complete offense."
Houston began the fourth inning with six consecutive hits against starter Marco Gonzales and wound up sending 10 batters to the plate and scoring five times to open up an 8-0 advantage. The Astros led, 9-2, when the Mariners scored five times in the sixth, capped by a two-run homer by nemesis Mitch Haniger off reliever Joe Smith.
Astros starter Charlie Morton (13-3) was lifted after allowing the first four batters to reach in the sixth, and they all scored. He gave up six runs and seven hits in five-plus innings but still managed to pick up his first win in four August starts.
"Good and then bad," Morton said when asked to summarize his day. "I gave up a bunch of runs in the sixth. I wasn't really mixing very well and I wasn't executing my sinker in good locations, and the offspeed I did throw was awful."
White, who tripled and scored in the first inning and recorded a single in the fourth, started the ninth with a solo homer off Adam Warren to stretch Houston's lead to 10-7.
Astros relievers Thomas Pressly, Hector Rondon and Roberto Osuna each pitched a scoreless inning, with Osuna getting his first save in an Astros uniform.
"It was a good win, and you can't hate how you win if you win," Hinch said. "It was good for us, especially the last three innings. The last three guys we threw is exactly how we draw it up, and they were all three dominant. The tack-on run at the end with Whitey's homer was big, but overall the way we swung the bat was pretty impressive."
Gurriel's 33 multihit games are second most on the Astros (Jose Altuve has 35).
HE SAID IT
"I think the good thing about our team is that once someone gets out or gets a hit, they come back to the dugout and are really communicative toward their teammates. That's good. Sometimes you hit slumps, you hit ruts, and people don't talk as much. But I think the main thing is our communication is at a high level right now, and that's what we have to keep doing to be successful." -- Kemp
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Astros lost a challenge in the fifth inning. Dee Gordon doubled with two outs, but the Astros contested shortstop Carlos Correa had tagged Gordon on the hand before his foot hit the bag. The call on the field stood after a replay review, with the explanation that Correa didn't possess the ball when his glove made contact with Gordon's hand.
Dallas Keuchel (9-10, 3.59 ERA) will start for the Astros to open Players' Weekend, when the players and coaching staff will put their personalities on display with colorful uniforms and unique nicknames. Keuchel is 6-2 with a 2.62 ERA in his last 12 outings, including nine quality starts. Lefty Andrew Heaney (7-7, 4.11 ERA) will start for the Angels. Friday's first pitch is scheduled for 9:07 p.m. CT.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.