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Cruz launches first homer since coming off DL

Mariners' DH takes Astros' Keuchel deep in third game back
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

SEATTLE -- Nelson Cruz still isn't running very well after returning from a sprained right ankle over the weekend, but the Mariners' slugger wasn't worried about sprint speed as he launched his first home run since coming off the disabled list -- a solo shot off the Astros' Dallas Keuchel -- during Monday night's 2-1 win at Safeco Field.

Cruz lined a 2-2 pitch over the fence in left field in the fourth inning to tie the game at 1.

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SEATTLE -- Nelson Cruz still isn't running very well after returning from a sprained right ankle over the weekend, but the Mariners' slugger wasn't worried about sprint speed as he launched his first home run since coming off the disabled list -- a solo shot off the Astros' Dallas Keuchel -- during Monday night's 2-1 win at Safeco Field.

Cruz lined a 2-2 pitch over the fence in left field in the fourth inning to tie the game at 1.

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It was the 37-year-old's third home run of the season, but first since he sprained his ankle when he slipped on the dugout steps at Safeco Field after hitting his second blast of the year in the second game.

Cruz had gone 1-for-10 since coming off the 10-day DL on Saturday before launching the 79-mph changeup into the Astros' bullpen.

Keuchel said the veteran slugger hit a pretty good pitch.

"It was definitely down," Keuchel said. "I would have liked to have it a little more outside. If I'm going to throw it middle down, I'm going to have it coming into him. It just so happened that it didn't break back as much as I would like. That's a credit to him. That's a good pitch."

"He's always tough," Cruz said. "He keeps the ball down, and it's hard to do too much damage against him, so you have to wait for the right pitch."

Cruz has hit .333 (11-for-33) against Keuchel with a double and four home runs, the most homers the Astros' standout has allowed to any batter.

"Nelly has a pretty good idea how guys are going to pitch him and certainly what Keuchel has done against him in the past," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "Trying to get the ball up, that's what you're always trying to do against Keuchel. He's got such a good sinker and his changeup has bottom to it as well.

"Nelson is also very strong. He doesn't have to hit the ball just perfect for it to go out of the ballpark. I think we saw one of those homers tonight. He did not hit that ball that well, but he got it just enough."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners, Nelson Cruz