SEATTLE -- The Mariners turned an unusual triple play and got a season-high eight strikeouts in a short start from Marco Gonzales on Thursday, but Seattle's offense was quiet for a fifth straight game as the Astros rolled to a 9-2 victory at Safeco Field.
Houston won three of four games in the series thanks to some dominant pitching. Charlie Morton threw seven scoreless innings with just three hits in the afternoon finale and is now 3-0 with an American League-leading 0.72 ERA.
But Morton wasn't alone in stifling Seattle, as the Mariners were outscored 21-6 in the series and totaled just seven runs over their past five games while falling to 9-8.
"We got shut down," said Mariners manager Scott Servais. "Their pitching was as advertised. Their guys are throwing the ball really well and they shut us down in this series. We didn't get a lot going. We were in all the games, a pitch here or play there. But you have to do more offensively. They silenced our bats, and you have to give them credit for that."
Gonzales dueled Morton to a draw early, striking out the side in the first and third and taking advantage of the triple play in the fourth inning to keep things scoreless through four. But an error and two singles in the fifth led to a run, and Servais pulled the 26-year-old with two out and two on in favor of Dan Altavilla.
But Altavilla walked George Springer to load the bases and gave up a three-run double to Jose Altuve as Houston jumped to a 4-0 lead. Gonzales was charged with three runs, but none were earned, while giving up four hits in a 79-pitch outing over 4 2/3 innings. He's now 1-2 with a 5.94 ERA in four starts.
"I thought Marco threw the ball really well today," said Servais. "One of the better outings he's had for us. He was aggressive and finishing hitters off. I just thought where we were in the ballgame, third time through the lineup and where they were at at the top of their lineup, I liked that matchup with Altavilla and Springer better. It didn't work out."
The Mariners' lone runs came on RBI doubles by David Freitas and Jean Segura in the eighth inning, when they got three of their seven hits for the game off relievers Tony Sipp and Hector Rondon.
The Astros improved to 13-7 with their third straight win. The defending World Series champs have won nine of their last 10 games against Seattle and are 17-6 vs. the Mariners since the start of the 2017 season.
Houston's starters have pitched seven-plus innings with two or fewer earned runs in six of their last seven games.
"It's a good staff. That's pretty clear," Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager said. "They've got really, really good arms over there. That's something we're going to have to battle with and overcome. But once you see them for the first time in a different year, you kind of get your bearings a little bit and remember what it's like in there. It's something we'll make adjustments on and do better with next time."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Little man, big hits: Altuve has done it before, and he'll do it again, but the 5-foot-6 second baseman drove the dagger into the Mariners' hearts when he cleared the bases with his three-run double off Altavilla in the fifth, which began with Seager's fielding error. The reigning AL MVP took an 89-mph slider for a strike, but when Altavilla came back with the same pitch, he drove it into right field to give Houston a 4-0 lead. Altuve added an RBI double in the eighth in a 3-for-4 day with four RBIs.
"It was off the plate, but Altuve is a great hitter and he's going to go out and get those," said Altavilla. "He's a bad-ball hitter, and he just went out and got it. It's always a tough AB against him. Sometimes you have to tip your cap to him. But right there, I think the depth slider would have been the perfect pitch."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Mariners turned their first triple play since 2015, and it was a weird one. With runners on first and second, Evan Gattis lined a hard grounder to Seager, who stepped on the bag and threw to second for a double play. But Gattis, angry at himself for hitting into the double play, rounded first and casually was headed back through the middle of the infield when the Mariners realized his mistake and threw to first baseman Daniel Vogelbach for the putout. It was the 12th triple play ever turned by Seattle and ninth the Astros have hit into in their franchise history.
"When I threw it to Robbie and he didn't throw it [to first] I was like, 'Oh man, he was going to be safe either way, but you might as well try it,"' Seager said. "Then we ended up getting him anyway, so Robbie was a genius." More >
Cano went 2-for-4 to put his average at .339 with a .471 on-base percentage through 17 games. Cano's career OBP is .355, and his best single-season mark is .383 -- in 2013, during his final year with the Yankees.
HE SAID IT
"It happens. That's baseball. That's the way the ball rolls. It's not always going to roll in your favor, and if it did, I don't think we'd love the game so much. So just have to roll with that and learn from it." -- Gonzales, on Seager's error and a blooper that fell in between several defenders in center field as part of the Astros' fifth-inning rally
The Mariners open a 10-game road trip on Friday at Texas, with Felix Hernandez (2-2, 5.48 ERA) taking on lefty Mike Minor (1-1, 4.60) in the 5:05 p.m. PT game in Arlington. Hernandez allowed just two runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings in his last outing, but lost a 2-1 decision to the A's. The 32-year-old is 19-24 with a 4.01 ERA in 54 career starts against Texas, including 1-1 with a 5.03 ERA in four games last year.