HOUSTON -- Logan Morrison blasted a three-run home run to key a five-run first inning against Collin McHugh and added a two-run shot in the third to lead the Mariners to an 8-1 win over the first-place Astros on Saturday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.
"The one thing we wanted to do was get LoMo down in the lineup against this particular guy because he's hit some home runs off of him and we were hoping we could have some guys on base and he could produce and he did a nice job of it tonight," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon, who dropped Morrison from his recent leadoff role to the seventh spot and wound up getting a career-high tying five RBIs from the first baseman.
It was the third career multi-homer game for Morrison, who hit a three-run homer to right field that made it 5-0 in the first. McHugh (6-3), who had a 13-2 record with a 3.15 ERA in his previous 22 starts, hasn't been nearly as sharp as he was last year and the first month of this season.
"They put up a big number right away and they got offensive," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "They put 12 baserunners in three innings and eight of them scored. Just a difficult day for him. Mechanically, I think we've got some things to work on with him. They made every pitch sort of hard contact they put in play did some damage."
Mariners left-hander Mike Montgomery (1-1) picked up his first career win by holding to the Astros to one run and six hits in six innings in his third career start. The only run he allowed came in the fifth, when Jason Castro and George Springer hit back-to-back one-out doubles.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The LoMo show: The Mariners flipped the script from Friday's first-inning blowout by putting up five runs in the first on McHugh, capped by Morrison's three-run homer to right-center. The shot, tracked at 418 feet by Statcast™, was Morrison's seventh of the season and first since May 12, a span of 28 games. He didn't wait that long to repeat, hitting his second shot off McHugh with a two-run pop in the third inning. Morrison is now 4-for-13 in his career against McHugh, with all four hits being home runs. More >
McHugh rocked: McHugh's struggles, which included a 5.08 ERA in six May starts, have continued into June. He gave up eight runs and nine hits in three innings to the Mariners and has won only two of his p ast eight starts after winning his first four decisions to begin the season. McHugh went 4-0 with a 3.23 ERA in his first four starts, but is 2-3 with a 6.86 ERA in his last seven starts.
"I know it's frustrating for him," catcher Jason Castro said. "He's a very cerebral guy and he has a gameplan going out there before the game starts. If he's not executing, it can be frustrating I know for him. He really takes pride in being able to execute and unfortunately those mechanical things were getting in the way of it a little bit, so I think once he addresses them and kind of reminds himself what he did so well last year, he'll be fine." More >
Montgomery holds the line: The Mariners southpaw took advantage of his team's offensive breakout to cruise to his first win since being promoted to fill in for the injured James Paxton. Staked to an early 8-0 lead, Montgomery gave up a run on back-to-back doubles in the fifth and had runners on first and second with one out, but slammed the door there by striking out Evan Gattis and getting Chris Carter to ground out. With a 1.89 ERA in three starts, he's been a pleasant mid-season surprise for a rotation missing both Paxton and Hisashi Iwakuma.
"It means a lot," Montgomery said of his first win. "It's been awhile in the Minor Leagues. At this point, winning is always better. I just want to come out here and help the team win as many games as I can. As a starting pitcher, your job is to go out there and put up zeroes and let your offense and defense do work." More >
"All is not well every time you win. It's my job to point those things out and make the club better. We're six games under .500 and I don't think anybody around here is happy with that. I've got to get them going. We've got to get going. It's time to kick a little butt, so we'll see." -- McClendon after saying his team needs to show more killer instinct after failing to build on its early lead.
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• Nelson Cruz's run-scoring single in the first was just his second RBI in the past 14 games for Seattle. Cruz had 38 RBIs in his first 46 games.
WHAT'S NEXT Mariners: Left-hander Roenis Elias will be on the hill as Seattle closes out the three-game set at Minute Maid Park in an 11:10 a.m. PT start. Elias (3-3, 2.79) has filled in well in eight starts for Iwakuma. He's 0-1, 2.60 ERA in three career outings against the Astros.
Astros: Rookie Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1. 2.32 ERA) will make his sixth Major League start in the final game of a three-game set at 1:10 P.M. CT at Minute Maid Park. McCullers, coming off the first loss of his Major League career, in which he tossed seven innings of four-hit ball against the White Sox, is tied with Tom Griffin for the Astros record with 36 strikeouts in his first five career games.