Springer finds redemption with walk-off hit

Astros rookie stings Mariners in 11th after fanning four times

Springer finds redemption with walk-off hit

HOUSTON -- The only at-bat that mattered for George Springer was the last one.

Springer, who was 0-for-5 with four strikeouts in his first five trips to the plate on Friday night, came through with a clutch single in the bottom of the 11th inning, a chopper off the glove of Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager to score Jose Altuve and give the Astros a 5-4 walk-off win at Minute Maid Park.

The hit was clearly a relief for Springer, the highly touted prospect who's struggled since his debut two weeks ago. He earned a water-jug shower from his teammates and a game ball, which he said he was going to give to his father.

"It's always great to help us win and contribute, and it's something to hang my hat on," Springer said.

Much of the credit for the win -- the Astros' first in their last at-bat this season -- went to the bullpen, which pieced together five scoreless innings in relief of starter Brad Peacock. Tony Sipp threw 1 2/3 innings in his Astros debut, and Anthony Bass (1-0) retired the final six Mariners for the win.

"The arms today threw outstanding," Springer said. "It was one of those things where I would say it's a great team win. It was a great effort from our starter. He threw a hell of a game. Great effort from the 'pen, great effort from the offense. That's a perfect example of a team win."

Altuve led off the 11th with a single -- his third hit of the game -- against Charlie Furbush (0-3) and went to second when Dexter Fowler followed with a bunt single toward first base. Carlos Corporan also bunted, and the Mariners unsuccessfully tried to get Altuve at third, loading the bases with no outs snd setting up Springer's redemption.

"Truthfully, if it wasn't for the at-bats that were before me, I'm not in that position," Springer said. "Altuve, Fowler and Corporan had three great at-bats. It was one of those things I was trying to slow myself down, and I know it's going to sound ridiculous, but just hit a ground ball up the middle and help us win."

Springer instead hit a one-hopper to Seager, who leaped into the air and couldn't quite corral the ball as it went off his glove. Altuve sprinted home, and there was an impromptu party. The Astros were 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position when Springer stepped to the plate.

"That's really a team win there, from all aspects of the game," manager Bo Porter said. "From the starting pitching battling for six innings, the bullpen was absolutely outstanding tonight, and offensively we really did a good job with our team at-bats, moving runners."

Sipp, who was signed earlier in the day, was thrown into the fire in the seventh and dominated, retiring all five batters he faced, including a pair on strikeouts in the eighth.

"That was a surprise to me, too," Sipp said. "It worked out. The guys behind me came in and it was finally just one of those times where once you hand the ball to the bullpen. That's the kind of attitude we have to have all the time. If it's a one-run ballgame, we've just got to keep it here and hitters pull it out."

Springer is hitting .180 with no homers, five RBIs and 23 strikeouts in 61 at-bats, but Porter has never lost faith in his young slugger, keeping him in the cleanup spot for most of his time in the Majors.

"Things like that can definitely get you going and you take off," Porter said. "You watch George, and even through his struggles tonight, there was never a doubt in his mind. He continues to battle and ends up at the plate with the bases loaded and the game on the line and ends up coming up with the big hit."

Springer admitted a sense of relief.

"This was obviously a big hit for me, I guess," he said. "I didn't really hit it that hard, but I'll take it. Hopefully this slows me down and gives some confidence. Just get back in there tomorrow and help us win again."

Peacock went six innings and allowed six hits and two earned runs for a quality start. Mariners starter Felix Hernandez went five innings, allowing five hits and three earned runs while battling the flu.

"Felix was under the weather," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "He didn't have much strength going out there. He battled and gave us five innings. I didn't know what we'd get out of him. I knew he was drained. He was sick yesterday and very weak today. He did a great job for us and kept us in the ballgame."

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