HOUSTON -- The two-run home run in the fourth inning by Evan Gattis was nice. The four-run rally in the seventh inning, which included four singles and a soft double to right by George Springer, pleased Astros manager AJ Hinch even more.The Astros scored four times in the seventh against
HOUSTON -- The two-run home run in the fourth inning by Evan Gattis was nice. The four-run rally in the seventh inning, which included four singles and a soft double to right by George Springer, pleased Astros manager AJ Hinch even more.
The Astros scored four times in the seventh against reliever Juan Nicasio for a come-from-behind 7-5 win over the Mariners and a split of the two-game series against the American League West leaders at Minute Maid Park.
"It's in our offense, we know that," said Hinch, whose team went 4-for-6 with runners in scoring position. "We know we can score from any part of our order. We strung together a lot of good at-bats, which is the key to try to score some runs."
Astros reliever Hector Rondon earned his first save since July 24, 2016, while with the Cubs by throwing the final 1 1/3 innings, striking out Nelson Cruz to end the game and strand a pair of runners. Chris Devenski (2-1) earned the win in relief.
"The guys did a really good job," Rondon said. "They battled all game and came back in the game, and I think that is the effort we have to do every day."
In the seventh, Alex Bregman's single tied the game at 4, and Jose Altuve's single put the Astros ahead, 5-4. Yuli Gurriel delivered the big blow with a two-run single -- which came two pitches after a passed ball moved Bregman to third and Altuve to second -- to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games and push the lead to 7-4.
"I liked that we took what he gave us," Hinch said. "We didn't try to do too much. We got a couple of base hits in a row, just kind of simple base hits. Obviously, George hits the ball down the line and gets the double. I like the singles. I think the mentality is 'Get a good pitch.' We all want to drive the ball out of the ballpark, yet he was making pitches that we could make solid contact on. We had a good, sound approach to beat him with singles, and it worked."
After having runners thrown out at third base and home plate in the third inning, the Astros' offense broke through with a three-run fourth, including a two-run homer by Gattis, before the first four batters in the seventh reached and scored off Nicasio.
"Obviously, the leadoff out at third base [when Tony Kemp tried to stretch a double] is tough to take," Hinch said. "You're close to creating a lot of energy and they make a really good relay, and we make another out on the bases when Dee Gordon knocks a ball down [off the bat of Correa and throws out Bregman at the plate]. Somewhat unlucky, somewhat maybe a little too aggressive trying to make things happen. You see that in games when not a lot of things are going your way and you're not scoring a lot of runs."
Astros starter Lance McCullers took a no-decision after allowing four runs (three earned) and seven hits in six-plus innings. He gave up solo homers to Cruz in the fourth and Denard Span in the seventh inning. Kyle Seager hit a solo homer off Joe Smith in the eighth.
"I gave up the two solos and unfortunately the one to Span was just a bad location," McCullers said. "I envisioned the inning going a little bit different when I was going back out there [for the seventh]. I felt like I had a pretty good chance to go seven and give the team a really solid start."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
We're used to seeing Springer nearly swing out of his shoes and hit tape-measure homers, but his key double in the seventh inning saw him poke a 92.9-mph fastball thrown by Nicasio into right field. The hit was only 72.2-mph off the bat, according to Statcast™. Springer went 2-for-4.
"I like the fact he trusts himself to let the ball travel [deep in the zone]," Hinch said. "He really can do a lot of different things from line to line. He doesn't have to hit the ball to any particular part of the ballpark or any particular pitch. I think the versatility he brings, he can do it. That was fortunate to stay fair, he was fortunate he caught it pretty deep at the right time."
McCullers hadn't allowed a homer in 35 innings this season at Minute Maid Park until Cruz took him deep in the fourth.
HE SAID IT
"We probably surpassed one of the toughest stretches of our season with the teams we had to play and we came out pretty solid. Guys should feel good about our last 15, 16 games, and now we keep the foot on the gas pedal on the road." -- McCullers, whose team just finished a stretch where it went 6-7 against the Indians, Yankees, Red Sox and Mariners. The Astros won't play a team that currently has a winning record until after the All-Star break
Right-hander Gerrit Cole will take the mound as the Astros open a 10-game road trip at 7:05 p.m. CT on Thursday against the Rangers at Globe Life Park. Cole (6-1, 2.21 ERA) will face veteran left-hander Cole Hamels (3-5, 3.63) in the opener of a four-game series.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.