James Paxton remained unbeaten against the Houston Astros, buoyed by a powerful performance from the top third of the Seattle batting order in the visiting Mariners’ 8-6 win on Thursday.
While Paxton (10-5) improved to 4-0 in four starts against the Astros this season, he did not produce a performance matching his previous dominance in the series. Paxton had allowed only two earned runs over his three starts and 20 1/3 innings, but the Astros matched that total when Marwin Gonzalez delivered a two-run single with one out in the third.
Paxton wound up surrendering four runs on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings.
What benefitted Paxton was the early ambush engineered by Mitch Haniger, Denard Span and Jean Segura against Astros right-hander Justin Verlander (11-7) in the first and second innings.
Seattle hit for the cycle in reverse against Verlander to open the game, with Hander smacking a leadoff homer, his 19th long ball of the season, to left field before Span followed with a triple to right. Segura added a double before Nelson Cruz added a run-scoring single to push the lead to 3-0.
That same trio struck again in the second, with Haniger smacking a two-out double before Span and Segura added back-to-back home runs for a 6-0 lead. Verlander appeared to pick off Haniger at second base before the carnage but was called for a balk.
Verlander was subsequently ejected between innings, presumably after protesting the call. He allowed six runs on seven hits with two strikeouts and no walks in two innings.
Haniger, Span, and Segura combined to finish 10-for-13 with six runs and seven RBIs. They totaled seven extra-base hits, with Span and Segura each recording their ninth homers.
For the Astros, Tony Kemp’s three-hit night included a two-out, two-strike, two-run single to right in the sixth that scored Tyler White and Martin Maldonado, cutting Seattle’s lead to 8-4.
Houston managed to get the tying run to the plate with two outs in the seventh, but pinch hitter Max Stassi hit into a fielder’s choice groundout.
White went deep off Mariners closer Edwin Diaz with two outs in the ninth inning, his fifth home run of the year. Diaz then struck out Josh Reddick to notch his major-league-leading 43rd save.
—Field Level Media