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Elias shows mettle with bounceback outing

Mariners pitcher gets redemption in second straight start vs. Astros

SEATTLE -- Mariners starter Roenis Elias paid dearly on both the first and last pitch of his seven-plus-inning, two-run outing in a 5-2 win over the Astros on Friday night.

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Astros center fielder George Springer drove Elias' first offering beyond the left-field wall to give Houston a 1-0 lead and second baseman Marwin Gonzalez homered off an elevated 91-mph fastball to end Elias' night in the top of the eighth.

For the rest of the evening, however, the 26-year-old lefty made Houston pay.

Elias struck out a career-high-tying 10 and allowed just four hits -- Chris Carter singled later the first inning and a Gonzalez doubled in the fifth -- to improve to 4-4 on the season.

"I think it's just what's inside him. He gets after it," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon. "It probably ticked him off a little bit, the [Springer] home run, and it made him more determined. He did a nice job for us."

Video: [email protected]: McClendon discusses Mariners' 5-2 win

Elias bounced back well from a Sunday clunker, also against the Astros, in which he surrendered seven earned runs in 3 1/3 innings in a 13-0 loss, the Mariners' worst defeat of the 2015 season.

"I thought he would be determined after the outing he had in Houston and he didn't disappoint," McClendon said. "I think he was executing pitches a lot better."

In particular, Elias' curveball vastly improved between Sunday and Friday. In Houston on Sunday, Elias threw just five of his 15 curveballs for strikes. On Friday, he struck out at least one Houston hitter on a curveball in every inning between the second and seventh.

"I was more aggressive and I had more command over all my pitches," said Elias through interpreter Nasusel Cabrera. "I struggled with my curveball command last outing. In my bullpen [session] I prepared and got better."

Elias got into some trouble in the first inning and faced six Houston hitters, but got out of the inning on just 12 pitches, with Springer's home run the only damage against him. He then cruised through the Astros' lineup, retiring 11 hitters in a row before allowing the double to Gonzalez in the fifth. He needed just 23 pitches to retire the side in order in the sixth and seventh innings.

"He doesn't shy away. He's a tough cookie," McClendon said of the Cuban defector. "He came over here in a boat. I don't think those guys are going to intimidate him too much. He went out there and threw pretty good."

It was a nice rebound performance for Elias, even if it required a small jolt from Springer to get things going.

"It woke me up," Elias said. "I threw a pitch right down the middle and he hit it. That's fine, it's baseball."

Andrew Erickson is an associate reporter for
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