The Mariners finally solved the Astros riddle. All it took was one run. Behind a great outing from starter Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle beat the Astros 1-0 Saturday afternoon at Safeco Field (box) to end a five-game slide against the division rival from Houston.
Closer Steve Cishek got himself into trouble again with a leadoff double in the ninth. Then he threw the biggest pitch of the game with two outs and a runner on third base. On a 3-2 count, Cishek caught Houston 3B Luis Valbeuna looking with a slider to end the game. Cishek struck out the final two batters to strand the tying run while earning his 22nd save.
Iwakuma had his finest start of the season, and maybe his best since throwing a no-hitter in August. With C Jesus Sucre behind the plate – the same guy who caught the no-no – Iwakuma tossed seven shutout innings and allowed just two hits. Edwin Diaz and Cishek made it stand up. Houston had four hits, although three were doubles.
Playing with a watered-down lineup that was without SS Ketel Marte, RF Nelson Cruz and C Chris Iannetta, Seattle scraped out five hits but didn’t score until the sixth inning. CF Leonys Martin had a double and a triple, the latter of which resulted in the only run when Robinson Cano drove him in with a single.
“Without Marte, without Nellie (Cruz), you’re hoping to stay in the game and get a chance at the end. And that’s exactly what happened.” – Mariners manager Scott Servais
While the Mariners have yet to name a starter for Wednesday’s game against the White Sox, all signs point to Felix Hernandez, who had a successful rehab start Friday night in Tacoma. He’s been on the disabled list since June 1 . . . Marte (ankle) and Cruz (foot) are day-to-day. … With Marte sidelined, Shawn O’Malley started at shortstop while LF Daniel Robertson hit leadoff . . . C Chris Iannetta got Saturday off, opening the door for Jesus Sucre to get his second start since coming off the disabled list.
After Sunday’s 1 p.m. series finale, the teams don’t meet again until mid-September. RHP Mike Montgomery (3-3, 2.06 ERA) will make his second start after coming out of the bullpen to help shore up the hobbled rotation. Houston will go with RHP Collin McHugh (5-6, 4.50 ERA). McHugh has beaten Seattle twice this season; against everybody else, he’s 3-6 with a 4.80 ERA.