SEATTLE -- Astros starter Gerrit Cole was about as untouchable as he has been in a while, and he needed to be against dominant Mariners starter James Paxton. Cole carried a no-hitter in the sixth, striking out Andrew Romine and Dee Gordon swinging to start the inning.While Paxton was able
SEATTLE -- Astros starter Gerrit Cole was about as untouchable as he has been in a while, and he needed to be against dominant Mariners starter James Paxton. Cole carried a no-hitter in the sixth, striking out Andrew Romine and Dee Gordon swinging to start the inning.
While Paxton was able to throw seven scoreless innings in a 2-0 win over the Astros on Monday night at Safeco Field, Cole was left to lament one pitch that was hit for a two-run double by Nelson Cruz in the sixth inning, scoring Romine and Gordon.
"It's tough," Cole said. "It boils down to one pitch out of 100 something I threw tonight. Paxton was great. Electric. We run into some good pitching. Guys are still grinding some at-bats and things aren't falling for us."
The Astros have lost a season-high five consecutive games and now lead the Mariners by three games in the American League West. Houston's offense is hitting .150 during the losing streak, including 2-for-24 with runners in scoring position. They've scored 10 runs in that span.
"The big picture is we've got to get better, obviously," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "We just got shut out. Things don't look great. I know we've had a little bit of a rough stretch. I believe in these guys. This is not indicative of anything other than a really rough stretch. Losing sucks, the frustration is mounting a little bit. Nobody is going to show up feeling great because of the way things have gone, but we'll be fine."
In the sixth, Cole recorded the two strikeouts before Jean Segura beat out an infield single. Denard Span shot a single up the middle and Cruz ripped a two-run double to left field that scored both of them. It was all the Mariners needed.
"Timing of hits was key tonight," Hinch said. "They timed up their hits against him about as perfect as you can with the infield single and then Span hits the breaking ball to center, and it looked like the one pitch he didn't execute the entire evening was the slider to Cruz. Gerrit threw the ball extremely well."
Houston's punchless offense, which is without injured stars Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, managed three hits against Paxton, who came off the disabled list and dominated the Astros by striking out eight.
"You go through ups and downs in the course of a season and we're in a little rough stretch right now," Astros shortstop Alex Bregman said. "That's baseball. We've all in here at some point in our careers struggled before. I'm sure this won't be the last time."
The Astros' best chance against Paxton may have come in the first inning. Bregman and Yuli Gurriel had one-out singles before Evan Gattis hit a towering fly ball to left field that narrowly missed being a homer (the umpires reviewed it). Gattis struck out, and then Tyler White flied out to center. Paxton retired 20 of the final 21 batters he faced.
"That was pretty electrifying stuff from the get-go," Hinch said. "We were inches away from a 3-0 lead in the first. After that, we had a tough time piece things together, obviously. He was pretty dominant."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Once Paxton left the game, the Astros pieced together a rally in the eighth against reliever Alex Colome, when Max Stassi singled with one out and George Springer drew a two-out walk. Bregman struck out swinging to end the threat. Houston went quietly in the ninth with Edwin Diaz recording his 40th save.
"We didn't come through in the eighth and should've," Bregman said. "I could have tied the game with a ball in the gap and could have at least extended the inning or moved Springer into scoring position with a base hit. Pretty bad at-bat by me in the eighth."
The Astros are 0-4 without Altuve in the starting lineup. He left Wednesday's game against the Rockies with knee soreness and was placed on the disabled list.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Hinch initiated a crew chief replay challenge in the first inning on Gattis' long fly ball that landed just foul with hopes it was a three-run homer. After the review, the call was confirmed. Gattis wound up striking out.
Right-hander Charlie Morton (11-2, 2.89 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros in Tuesday's 9:10 p.m. CT game against the Mariners at Safeco Field. Right-hander Mike Leake (8-6, 4.15 ERA) will start for the Mariners.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.