BY SPNW Staff 07:36PM 08/31/2013

Mariners Strike Early, Hold On, Beat Astros 3-1

The Mariners manufactured three first-inning runs and Joe Saunders did not allow an earned run over 5.1 innings as the Mariners defeated the Houston Astros 3-1 Saturday night at Minute Maid Park. After losing all six games on a recent home stand, the Mariners have won three in a row at Houston’s expense. Of course, it was only the Astros, baseball’s worst team.

They didn’t do much offensively, but bunched an RBI single by Kendrys Morales, a bases-loaded walk to Nick Franklin and a fielder’s choice by Dustin Ackley in the first to stake Saunders to a 3-0 lead.

The lefty, who improved to 11-13, greased the win in the second inning when he escaped a bases-loaded jam. After that, he had clear sailing as he scattered six hits with two strikeouts and three walks, lowering his ERA to 4.92.

The Astros had a chance to get back in the game in the sixth when they put two runners aboard with one out, but came up empty. The Astros finished 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

After their three-run outburst in the first, the Mariners didn’t get another hit until the sixth.

After Saunders departed, Carter Capps, Yoervis Medina and Danny Farquhar threw 3.2 innings of scoreless relief. Farquhar notched his 11th save.

STREAKS: Mariners have won three straight and are 10-5 against Houston this season. Seattle is 5-6 in its last 11 games and improved to 34-32 vs. the AL West. The Mariners have won six straight against Houston.

BATS: The Mariners had only six hits, including two by Kyle Seager, both singles. The Mariners went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position . . . The two teams combined for 14 hits, all singles.

ARMS: Farquhar has 11 saves in 12 opportunities. He has a save in each of the Mariners last 11 wins. In the ninth, he walked the leadoff batter, but retired the next three.

QUOTES: “We had a lot of opportunities, but played sloppy baseball in the second half of the game. But in the end we won. I thought Joe Saunders was a little erratic, but he battled and gave us everything he had even though he was not on top of his game.” — Eric Wedge, Seattle manager.

NOTES: Major League rosters expand Sunday and the Mariners are expected to bring up several players from AAA Tacoma, including catcher Mike Zunino . . . When Taijuan Walker defeated Houston Friday, he joined Pat Rice (May 18, 1991 at New York) as the only rookies in franchise history to record a win and not allow an earned run.

NEXT:  RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (12-6, 3.03) will oppose LHP Brett Oberholtzer (3-1, 2.91). Seattle and the Kansas City Royals hook up for a four-game set beginning Monday at Royals Stadium.



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