After narrowly averting a fourth shutout in 11 games Thursday in Anaheim, the Mariners went to Houston Friday night and blasted four home runs for a 10-5 triumph over the Astros, moving up on Kansas City in the American League wild card race.
The Royals (83-69) were crushed at home 10-1 by Detroit (85-68) to reduce their lead over the Mariners (83-70) for the second wild card spot to a half-game. Oakland (84-69) beat Philadelphia 3-1 to hold on to the first wild card spot.
Rookie starter Taijuan Walker won his second game of the season, both against the Astros, with a busy 5.2 innings, giving up eight hits and two walks but only two runs, partly because of seven strikeouts. He loaded the bases with no outs in the third on two walks and a single, but emerged unscathed with two strikeouts and a fly-out.
“I can’t tell you how pleased I was with his command and attacking the strike zone,” said manager Lloyd McClendon.
Brandon Maurer and Yoervis Medina weren’t sharp, but Joe Beimel and and Danny Farquhar closed out the ninth.
In the seventh, Mike Zunino hit his 21st home run, a three-run shot, which was was replicated by Kyle Seager with his 24th homer. In between, Robinson Cano had a run-scoring single.
In the third inning, Dustin Ackley hit a solo homer to tie the game at 1-1. Walker gave up a run in the first when Jose Altuve, the major leagues’ leading hitter, got the first of his three hits, a double. He scored on a single by Dexter Fowler.
Ackley struck again in the eighth with another solo homer.
Cano finished with three hits, Ackley, Zunino Seager had two.
At 4 p.m. Saturday, Chris Young (12-8, 3.33 ERA) goes for the Mariners against Dallas Keuchel (11-9, 3.00).