Astros' relievers ready to do what's necessary

Astros' relievers ready to do what's necessary

SEATTLE -- At this point in the season, relief pitchers are going to be thrust into situations that might not be the most comfortable. Tired arms will be called upon to get key outs in big games, and there's no such thing as being unavailable.

Welcome to the final week of the season, when the Astros' bullpen will be tested like never before. The relievers came through in the clutch in Monday's 3-2 win over the Mariners, retiring all eight batters they faced to lock down a huge win.

"The roles are definitely out of the window now," said lefty Tony Sipp, who threw two scoreless innings, including a pickoff/caught stealing of James Jones. "Right now, it's give them whatever you have in the tank. Certain situations you probably wouldn't be put in at the beginning of the year, right now you roll with the hot hand. We're all prepared for it. We know it."

After starter Lance McCullers Jr. threw six-plus innings, leaving after issuing a leadoff walk in the seventh, Sipp threw two scoreless innings. Sipp hasn't been scored against in 24 of his last 25 outings.

Sipp picks off Jones

"I got away with a few pitches, actually," he said. "The fastball I wasn't that happy about to the last two batters, but I guess when things are going good, you get away with the mistakes and don't have to seem them on [TV]."

Veteran left-hander Oliver Perez, working for the fourth game in a row, started the ninth by striking out Kyle Seager swinging on three consecutive sliders.

"It's pretty important to get the first out," he said. "We have the big spot coming up for them -- Seager, [Robinson Cano] and [Nelson Cruz]. You've got to be careful and be down in the zone and make sure that's the right pitch."

Closer Luke Gregerson, who was pitching his third game in a row, whiffed Cruz and Cano on seven pitches to end the game for his 30th save.

"Those guys have long resumes, and they've all had, individually, some pretty decent years," manager A.J. Hinch said. "We wanted to match up there. … You couldn't have drawn it up any better."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.