Astros hit three homers to win eighth straight

Astros hit three homers to win eighth straight

HOUSTON -- Evan Gattis, Jake Marisnick and George Springer hit home runs and Samuel Deduno delivered an effective spot start on Friday as the Astros beat the Mariners, 4-3, for their eighth straight win.

Gattis continues to warm up after a slow start, hitting his third homer, a two-run shot in the first off Seattle southpaw Roenis Elias. Marisnick added a solo shot in the second in support of Deduno, who threw four innings of one-run ball in his first start of the year before turning things over to the Astros' much-improved bullpen.

"We're getting rewarded tremendously for playing clean baseball, just swinging the bats well and backing it up in the field," said Astros manager A.J. Hinch. "There's a nice vibe around us right now."

Springer capped things off with an eighth-inning blast as the American League West-leading Astros won for the 12th time in their past 13 games and improved to 16-7, matching their best record after 23 games in franchise history. Seattle slipped to 10-13 as Elias -- making his second start in place of the injured Hisashi Iwakuma -- gave up three runs in six innings with eight strikeouts.

Marisnick's solo home run

The Mariners made things interesting with a pair of solo homers by Nelson Cruz and Logan Morrison off Astros closer Luke Gregerson in the ninth before Gregerson struck out Rickie Weeks for his fifth save.

"We've got to get going," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said after his team totaled just six hits and went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position against six Houston hurlers. "Whatever we've got to do, shake it up or whatever we've got to do, we've got to start swinging the bats better. You score two or three runs, you're not going to win ballgames."

Gone, Gattis, Gone: Gattis, meet the Crawford Boxes. Though his average remains below the Mendoza Line, Gattis isn't staying quiet as the season's second month begins. He hit his second two-run homer in four games, this one a first-inning screamer that barely cleared the tall facade in left field. It wasn't his first home run in Minute Maid Park this season, but it was his first to that short porch in left. For a slugger with the kind of pull power Gattis has, it likely won't be the last time those seats welcome one of his home runs.

Cano's RBI double

Cano starting to heat back up: The Mariners struggled to mount much of an offensive attack against Deduno and the Astros bullpen, but Seattle did see signs of life from second baseman Robinson Cano. After snapping an 0-for-18 streak on Thursday, Cano doubled in a run in the third and went 2-for-4 on the day. He's 4-for-9 in the first two games of the series to hike his average to .263 and now leads the AL with nine doubles.

Fields fans the side: Astros reliever Josh Fields may have sent a message to the American League. Don't let his first two seasons in the Houston 'pen fool you. The righty flashed electric stuff in the fifth inning, striking out the side at a key moment when Houston had turned to its bullpen for the night. Seth Smith and Jesus Sucre stared at strike 3 and Austin Jackson went down swinging to end the frame, as Fields backed up Deduno's four innings of one-run ball. More >

"That inning made me feel a little bit better about taking [Deduno] out," Hinch noted.

Fields added another strikeout in the sixth for good measure to notch his first truly strong outing since returning from a groin injury last week.

Statcast: Cruz's monster smash

Cruz cranks another: The Mariners designated hitter launched his Major League-leading 11th homer of the year in the ninth inning off Gregerson and it was another bomb. Cruz hit the train sitting high above the left-field wall at Minute Maid Park, giving him 23 RBIs on the season. The blast was tracked at 469 feet by Statcast, not too shy of the 483-footer he ripped Wednesday in Arlington that was the longest in the Majors this season. Cruz said it was the first time he's hit the train during a game, but he's done it during batting practice.

"He did a nice job. He just made one horrible pitch with two strikes to Gattis. You don't do that, you might win a ballgame. But he pitched extremely well." -- McClendon, on Elias' second start since being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma.

• When the Astros scored three runs off Elias, it snapped a string of nine consecutive games in which Seattle's starter had allowed two or fewer runs, which tied for the fourth-longest string in franchise history.

Altuve extends multihit streak

Jose Altuve's 2-for-4 night gave him nine consecutive multi-hit games, tying the Astros' franchise record. More >

Mariners: Taijuan Walker, coming off his best start of the season, takes on the Astros in Saturday's 4:10 p.m. PT game at Minute Maid Park. The 22-year-old has seen a lot of Houston in his young career. He's 3-0, 2.67 ERA in five starts against the Astros and 1-5, 4.73 ERA in 10 games against other teams.

Astros: On the home side, righty stalwart Collin McHugh gets the ball at 6:10 p.m. CT and that's always a good sign for Houston. The Astros are 9-0 in games started by McHugh or ace Dallas Keuchel this season, and McHugh was 3-0 with a 2.92 ERA in April. Seattle found some success against him back on April 21, scratching three runs and seven hits off McHugh over seven innings.

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Chris Abshire is a contributor to Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.