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Carter's first homer of season gives Astros hope

SEATTLE -- Chris Carter came through with his first home run of the season in the seventh inning Wednesday night in a 3-2 loss to the Mariners at Safeco Field.

Carter's homer off J.A. Happ came on the same date and in the same ballpark as his first home run a year ago, setting the stage for his 37-homer season that ranked second in the Majors. He has 12 career home runs against Seattle, his second most against any team.

After starting the season 3-for-42 with no homers or RBIs, Carter went 3-for-7 with two RBIs in the final two games of the Mariners series, including a pair of walks.

Carter wishes he could have celebrated his homer with a victory, but he struck out with the bases loaded in the eighth inning.

"I finally got a couple hits and got the first [homer] out of the way," Carter said. "In that situation [in the eighth], that's a game-changing situation. I've got to come up with something there instead of striking out."

"He swung the bat very well today," manager A.J. Hinch said. "The base hit early in the game, the home run late. He's going to contribute. Obviously, it's going to take a while for things to even out for him. Chris Carter will be a productive player for us."

Trailing, 3-2, in the eighth, the Astros loaded the bases with two outs after three walks, but Carter struck out swinging against Yoervis Medina.

"It was good until that at-bat," Carter said. "We still lost, but that's a situation where I would have put us ahead right there, and I couldn't capitalize on that."

The Astros had another great scoring chance in the ninth against Fernando Rodney, who gave up back-to-back, one-out singles to Jake Marisnick and Jose Altuve to put runners on the corners. Luis Valbuena popped out, and George Springer grounded out to end the game.

"From the side, it looked like Carter got caught in between a little bit, fastball, breaking ball, another borderline pitch on the check swing at the end," Hinch said. "You're just sort of battling and trying to do whatever. Valbuena clips that just a little bit more, it's a fly ball to the outfield. I'd have to look at it a little bit more. Looking at the end, George got a decent pitch to hit and hit it on the ground."

Valbuena said he got the pitch he was looking for -- a changeup -- but didn't do enough with it.

"We can't keep our heads down," he said. "You see what happened today. But for me I don't feel good ... he threw me the pitch I was looking for and I missed it. That's OK. Keep going. We have another game."

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