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Mariners silenced after Cano's early homer

MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

SEATTLE -- Robinson Cano made a little history with the 302nd home run of his career on Tuesday, but the rest of the Mariners couldn't make any headway against Lance McCullers Jr. in a 4-1 loss to the Astros at Safeco Field.

Outside of Cano's first-inning blast, it was a silent night for Seattle's offense as Houston snapped a three-game skid and evened the series at a game apiece.

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SEATTLE -- Robinson Cano made a little history with the 302nd home run of his career on Tuesday, but the rest of the Mariners couldn't make any headway against Lance McCullers Jr. in a 4-1 loss to the Astros at Safeco Field.

Outside of Cano's first-inning blast, it was a silent night for Seattle's offense as Houston snapped a three-game skid and evened the series at a game apiece.

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Cano's homer -- a 403-foot shot to center -- moved him past Rogers Hornsby for second all-time for players who played primarily second base. Jeff Kent is No. 1 with 377.

"That's something as a kid, you always dream of coming up and doing something special in the game," Cano said. "It would be better if we ended up winning so we could celebrate. But you just go home and focus on the next game tomorrow."

After winning five of their previous six, the Mariners mustered just one hit off McCullers in seven innings and three hits on the night as they dropped to 9-6 on the season. McCullers struck out 11 with one walk in a 102-pitch gem as Houston edged back into second place in the American League West, ahead of Seattle, at 11-7.

McCullers is now 6-2 with a 2.74 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 55 2/3 innings over 10 starts against Seattle, but the curveball specialist said he doesn't have any special mastery over the Mariners.

"Those guys can really bang," he said. "They've got a great hitting team and a great team in general. They have a lot of veteran leadership over there, a lot of guys who are the greats of our generation, especially Robby and obviously Ichiro [Suzuki]. When you face those guys, you've got to be on top of your game. Maybe they bring the best out in me."

Video: HOU@SEA: McCullers Jr. allows one hit in seven frames

Ariel Miranda wasn't nearly as efficient as McCullers, but he skirted around trouble for much of his five-inning outing, holding the Astros to one run on six hits and four walks. The 29-year-old Cuban got the spot-start for the Mariners, who hadn't previously needed a fifth starter due to off-days in the early schedule.

"Every time it's your first outing, you're excited," Miranda said through interpreter Nasusel Cabrera. "I was very emotional. When I pitch like that, I do a good job."

Manager Scott Servais appreciated the effort and the emotion.

"He's gone through a lot to get here," Servais said. "People forget about the sacrifices some of the Cuban players have made to get over here. He's one of those that has paid quite a lot of dues to get here. He appreciates where he's at and wants to be part of what we're doing here going forward."

After Miranda left, the Astros jumped quickly on reliever Dan Altavilla in the sixth. Evan Gattis drew a four-pitch walk and Brian McCann turned around a 98-mph fastball for a two-run homer and a 3-1 lead.

Video: HOU@SEA: McCann crushes a go-ahead two-run home run

That's all the cushion the Astros needed, as relievers Will Harris and Chris Devenski whiffed three more in the final two frames to give Houston 14 strikeouts on the night.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Miranda digs in: The Astros tied the game at 1 on a fielder's choice grounder in the second, then loaded the bases with one out. But Miranda battled his way out of the jam, striking out Jake Marisnick and George Springer. The lefty needed 36 pitches to get through the frame, but kept Houston in check and managed to get through five innings with no further damage. Miranda also left the bases loaded in the fifth by getting Josh Reddick to fly out to center.

"I think a lot of Ariel Miranda, because he never quits," Servais said. "He always keeps competing and giving a good effort. Some nights, the results are better than others, but for what we were asking for out of him, to give us five innings, I was pretty happy with that."

Video: HOU@SEA: Miranda escapes bases-loaded jam in 2nd

Last out was a loud one: The Mariners had a runner on first with one out after Jean Segura singled off Devenski in the ninth, but Cano ripped a 98.3-mph line drive right at first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who stepped on the bag for the game-ending double play.

"That's baseball, it's a game of inches," Cano said. "I do what I can. All you can do is hit the ball. You can't guide it."

Video: HOU@SEA: Devenski gets a double play to earn the save

HE SAID IT
"Obviously, the story tonight was McCullers. He threw the ball extremely well. He had the good breaking ball, like he always does, and he's added a changeup. With his stuff and the back and forth and the command he had tonight, he kept us off balance the whole night." -- Servais, on McCullers' dominant outing

Video: HOU@SEA: Servais on Miranda, Cano in loss to Astros

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Ichiro had one of Seattle's three hits with an eighth-inning single, the 3,087th hit of his MLB career. He ranks 21st all-time in hits, with Hall of Famer Dave Winfield next up on the list with 3,110.

WHAT'S NEXT?
Mike Leake has been the Mariners' most consistent starter to date, and the 30-year-old right-hander will look to keep that going in Wednesday's 7:10 p.m. PT matchup with the Astros' Gerrit Cole. Leake is 2-0 with a 3.50 ERA in three starts this year and 5-1 with a 2.88 ERA in eight games since being acquired from St. Louis in August.

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

Seattle Mariners, Robinson Cano, Ariel Miranda