SEATTLE -- Nathan Karns delivered his best outing in a Mariners uniform and Robinson Cano had a night to remember in more ways than one. The result was an 11-1 victory for Seattle over Houston and reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel on Tuesday night at a chilly Safeco Field.
Karns put up zeros for seven innings, giving up only two hits to the Astros, and Cano got the 999th and 1,000th RBIs of his career in the fifth inning and then added four more in the seventh on a grand slam.
"We got a bunch of hits tonight, but we haven't been getting a ton of hits," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "We've created a lot of opportunities. It's the walks. It's constant pressure. It's running pitch counts up and really grinding at-bats top to bottom in our lineup -- and it's key. It works. You just keep grinding and grinding and grinding. And there is no easy out in this lineup when there's a left-hander out there or a right-hander out there. Keuchel is obviously a really good pitcher in our league, but we just kind of grinded away tonight and we got a couple of big hits."
Keuchel and Karns looked good at the beginning of the game, with neither surrendering a hit until Chris Iannetta's leadoff double in the bottom of the third. But Seattle got on the board first in the fourth, when Ketel Marte led off with a two-base hit of his own and scored two batters later on a Nelson Cruz single.
The Mariners poured it on in a four-run fifth inning that effectively put the game away. They loaded the bases before Marte singled in a run with two out. Then Cano flared a single to left for his two milestone RBIs before inducing a throw home while in a rundown. Houston first baseman Tyler White's throw was offline and allowed Norichika Aoki to score to make it 5-0.
"To get a single to go up by four runs, that's pretty special," Cano said.
Cano added RBIs 1,001-1,004 in the seventh when he blasted a Michael Feliz offering into the seats in right-center field for a grand slam. Karns and the Seattle bullpen did the rest. The right-hander struck out six while walking three over his seven innings. Marte finished with three hits and an RBI, and the Mariners won their third consecutive game at home after starting the season 0-5 at Safeco.
The Astros scored their lone run in the eighth inning off Mariners reliever Tony Zych before the Mariners added two more runs in the bottom of that frame when Houston had backup catcher Erik Kratz take over pitching duties.
"I think every team is going to go through this, what's happening to us right now, but we're going to be good," Astros second baseman Jose Altuve said. "I'm confident in the team we have. We're going to start swinging the bat and doing everything we normally do and be one of the best teams in the big leagues."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED A "grand" feat for Cano: Cano's two-run single in the eventful bottom of the fifth inning accounted for the 999th and 1,000th RBIs of his career. He is the fifth-fastest second baseman to get to that milestone, doing it in 1,708 games. Former Mariner Bret Boone is now sixth on the list at 1,725 games. Cano didn't waste much time adding on to his total, either. His seventh-inning grand slam got him to 1,004. More >
Walks hurt Keuchel in fifth: Keuchel got himself in trouble in the fifth with a pair of one-out walks and an infield hit and was still a pitch away from escaping the bases-loaded mess having allowed one run before Cano's two-run single scored a pair. A third run came around to score on the play on a fielder's choice after Cano initially got caught between first and second, putting the Astros into a five-run hole.
"Just can't do anything right. That's just the way it's going," Keuchel said. "It seems like I made a few pitches, a bloop single. When it's not going right, it's not going right. The tough thing about it is nobody's going to feel sorry for you and we've got to figure it out ourselves and come out tomorrow and play better." More >
Cruz delivers first run: The Mariners finally broke through against Keuchel in the fourth inning. Marte led off with a double down the left-field line, moved to third on a Cano fielder's choice, and Cruz punched a single to left field for the first run of the game by either team. It was Cruz's 50th career RBI against Houston.
Kratz pitches: Trailing, 9-1, in the eighth inning, the Astros turned to backup catcher Erik Kratz to pitch and help spell the bullpen and become the first position player to pitch this year. Kratz, who did some pitching in the Minor Leagues, allowed two runs (one earned) and threw a couple of wild pitches.
"I try to have fun with it," Kratz said. "It's not a situation that I want to be in. We're behind, but it's something that hopefully can save some of those guy's arms. It's the role of the backup catcher. You do what you can, stuff that doesn't show up it the stat line, to hopefully in the end help the team." More >
WHAT'S NEXT Astros: Collin McHugh, a 19-game winner a year ago, will take the mound in Wednesday's 9:10 p.m. CT series finale against the Mar/ners. He has lost three of his first four starts and has a 7.56 ERA, having allowed 31 hits in 16 2/3 innings.
Mariners: Seattle completes the three-game series against the Astros with a 7:10 p.m. PT start on Wednesday night. Hisashi Iwakuma (0-2, 3.81 ERA) looks for his first win of the season for the Mariners. He's 4-4 with a 3.77 ERA in 10 career starts vs. Houston.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.