HOUSTON -- The Mariners finally hit a ball where Astros high-flying center fielder Jake Marisnick couldn't catch it.After watching Marisnick make a pair of diving catches in the eighth inning, including a spectacular grab on a Robinson Cano sinking liner, the Mariners stunned the Astros when Daniel Vogelbach clubbed a
HOUSTON -- The Mariners finally hit a ball where Astros high-flying center fielder Jake Marisnick couldn't catch it.
After watching Marisnick make a pair of diving catches in the eighth inning, including a spectacular grab on a Robinson Cano sinking liner, the Mariners stunned the Astros when Daniel Vogelbach clubbed a pinch-hit grand slam off Hector Rondon to steal a 4-1 win over the defending champs at Minute Maid Park.
"That's kind of how baseball works," Marisnick said. "Our pitchers have done a great job carrying us all year and doing some big things for us. Things like that are going to happen."
Rondon entered the game with a 1-0 lead in the eighth and allowed the Mariners to load the bases with two outs -- both coming on what at the time appeared to be game-saving catches by Marisnick to rob Ryon Healy and Cano. Seattle loaded the bases on a leadoff single by Nelson Cruz, a one-out bloop single by Kyle Seager and a walk to Denard Span with two outs.
Three pitches later, Vogelbach turned on a 98 mph fastball and hit a rocket into the Astros' bullpen in right-center field for the first grand slam hit against the Astros this year.
"Jake has done that to us a few times," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "He's a really good defender, no question about it. The ball that Healy hit and the one that Cano hit, you're thinking, 'Gosh, it may not be our night.' But we figured out a way to hit one where he couldn't catch it."
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The loss trimmed the Astros' lead in the American League West to four games over the second-place A's with 12 games remaining.
"We lived on the edge all night," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "They left a lot of guys on base. We made nice pitches to get out of a couple of messes, and when Jake makes those two good catchers -- great catches -- you feel pretty good about it. … We fall behind Vogelbach and then he gets the fastball to hit. Bad inning."
Rondon, who has elevated into one of Hinch's main back-end bullpen weapons, has allowed 12 hits and seven earned runs in four innings in his last four outings.
"Most of the time it's a lot of bad luck, little bloop hits," Hinch said. "Even tonight, Seager gets the bloop hit to left and Jake rescues a couple of those hits. Cruz hit the ball hard up the middle and then one big pitch that got him beat. So there's been a couple of outings where some bloops have led to bigger innings, and then when the pitch needs to be made or you need that last pitch to get out of a mess, he's been on the other end of it. He'll be fine."
Consecutive two-out doubles by Yuli Gurriel and Marwin Gonzalez off Mariners starter Wade LeBlanc in the fourth was the only offense the Astros could manage. Their only other hit was a one-out single in the fifth by Martin Maldonado, who was thrown out by a mile trying to stretch it into a double.
"It didn't look like we were picking the ball up very well," Hinch said. "LeBlanc always does this cat-and-mouse game of moving the ball around. We've had pretty good success against him and for whatever reason we weren't really taking great swings against him. We weren't swinging at a ton of pitches outside the strike zone, but we weren't centering the ball up all that much."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Astros wriggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning. Lefty reliever Tony Sipp allowed a pair of batters to reach before Thomas Pressly loaded the bases by walking Mitch Haniger. Pressly got Jean Segura to hit a weak chopper back to the mound, which he fielded with ease and flipped an underhanded throw to first to end the inning. They weren't so fortunate with the bases loaded in the eighth.
Vogelbach's grand slam was the first the Astros allowed since Oakland's Marcus Semien took Luke Gregerson deep on Sept. 8 of last year.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Marisnick's ability to make the great defensive plays in the eighth were the product of Cruz's leadoff single to center in the inning. Marisnick thought he had a good jump on Cruz's ball and pulled up and watched it fall to the grass. He told himself that wasn't going to happen again.
"I got in that mentality and got some pretty good jumps on those ones coming in," he said.
HE SAID IT
"That was a lot of fun to be able to run those down. Those are two consecutive catches, I don't know if I've made two like that back to back." -- Marisnick
Rookie Josh James (0-0, 4.22 ERA) will make his second big league start and fourth appearance when the Astros meet the Mariners at 7:10 p.m. CT Tuesday at Minute Maid Park. James has struck out 17 batters in 10 2/3 innings this year. Right-hander Mike Leake (10-9, 3.99 ERA) will start for Seattle.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.