Brad Miller cracked his first two major league home runs and drove in five, Kyle Seager extended his hitting streak to 15 games, and Joe Saunders won his fourth consecutive start as the Mariners launched the second half with a 10-7 win over the Houston Astros Friday night at Minute Maid Park. The Mariners (44-52) have won a season-high four in a row.
Miller, playing in his 17th major league game, took Bud Norris deep with a two-run shot in the sixth inning and ripped a three-run homer in the eighth off Josh Fields as the Mariners extended their franchise record for consecutive games hitting a home run to 23.
Seager, who staked Seattle to a 2-0 lead in the fourth with his 16th homer, extended his hitting streak to a season-high 15 games as the Mariners evened the season series with Houston at 5-5.
Saunders (9-8) worked 5.1 innings. After he exited, Yoervis Media worked 1.2 innings of scoreless relief. The Mariners had shaky relief efforts after Medina left, but Tom Wilhelmsen closed it out in the ninth despite giving up a run.
The Mariners made the most of 11 hits and eight walks, scoring four times in the fourth, twice in the sixth, three times in the eighth and once in the ninth.
Seattle’s victory overshadowed a spectacular game by Houston’s Brandon Barnes, who went 5-for-5 and hit for the cycle. Barnes homered in the second, tripled in the fourth, singled in the sixth, doubled in the eighth and singled in the ninth.
After spotting Houston a 1-0 lead in the second when Barnes ripped a 1-0 fastball off Saunders, the Mariners exploded for four runs in the fourth.
After Kendrys Morales singled to center, Seager hit his 16th home run. Dustin Ackley followed with a two-run double, scoring Michael Saunders (hit by pitch) and Mike Zunino (walked on a full count).
The 23 games with a home run (41 since June 20) is a franchise record (19 in 1999). The 2002 Texas Rangers hold the MLB record of 27.
Barnes hit a run-scoring triple in the fourth following Justin Maxwell’s single, slicing Seattle’s lead to 4-2, but Miller retaliated with a two-run jolt in the sixth after a Zunino walk for a 6-2 lead. Miller’s blow spelled the end for Houston starter Norris, who allowed six earned runs on six hits in 5.2 innings with two strikeouts and four walks.
Saunders faltered in the sixth when he walked Maxwell and Dominguez and gave up a single to Barnes with out one. Yoervis Medina gave up a run, charged to Saunders, on a fielder’s choice, but got out of the inning without further damage. Saunders finished with three earned runs, six strikeouts and three walks.
The Mariners put two on in the eighth before Miller hit his second homer, giving Seattle a 9-3 lead.
The Astros got three back in the eighth off Danny Farquhar and Oliver Perez, the big blow a two-run homer by pinch hitter Brett Wallace off Perez. But Justin Smoak came back in the ninth with his ninth homer, a first-pitch shot, to make it 10-6.
Barnes scored his third run of the night in the ninth on a single by Dominguez.
The second in the second in the three-game series is Saturday at 4:10 p.m., PT. Hisashi Iwakuma (8-4, 3.02), who had a bounce-back in his last start after five poor outings, will throw for Seattle opposite former Mariner Erik Bedard (3-6, 4.61), who took a no-decision against Seattle April 9.
After Sunday’s series conclusion, the Mariners return to Safeco Field for a seven-game home stand, starting Monday with the first of three against Cleveland. Minnesota follows the Tribe for a four-game set.
NOTES: OF Franklin Gutierrez and RHP Stephen Pryor began rehab assignments with AAA Tacoma Thursday. The Mariners have also activated DH Jesus Montero from the minor league disabled list . . . Felix Hernandez (10-4, 2.59), who pitched in the All-Star Game Tuesday, will throw for the Mariners Sunday. . . Manager Eric Wedge said Friday that RHP Erasmo Ramirez will be recalled from a brief stint with A Everett to start Tuesday against Cleveland. Ramirez made a start for Seattle slightly more than a week ago, but was optioned to Everett to get in a start during the All-Star break . . . Wedge said he hopes OF Michael Morse, who did not accompany the team to Houston, can begin a minor league rehab assignment in Tacoma this week.
Josh Fields? The same Josh Fields who was Seattle’s top draft pick a few years ago? That worked out well, didn’t it?
Glad to see Miller crank two homers. I don’t think he’ll ever be much of a longball threat, but he’s got potential to be a steady 12-16 HR guy. One of the things I like about him is that he hasn’t appeared overmatched in the least. He’s a ballplayer.
Also happy to see the walking wounded starting MiLB rehab assignments. I have no hopes that Gutierrez will ever be healthy long enough to contribute and I’m beginning to wonder the same about Morse (I like both of them), but Pryor’s a Capps who throws strikes and I haven’t given up on Montero’s bat.
The Mariners still have the elements of a winning team in them, but it’ll be interesting to see who’s gone when the trade deadline passes. I think Morales may be dealt because Smoak’s hitting and we actually have depth at 1B but, for goodness sake, don’t trade Raul Ibanez. He means too much to this group of players even if he never hits another HR this season…and he will.