Walker's 11 Strikeouts Leads Mariners Past Houston - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Walker's 11 Strikeouts Leads Mariners Past Houston

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Taijuan Walker struck out a career-high 11 batters in the Mariners 6-3 win. (Photo: Mariners) Taijuan Walker struck out a career-high 11 batters in the Mariners 6-3 win. (Photo: Mariners)

SEATTLE (AP) -- Taijuan Walker struck out a career-high 11 while pitching into the seventh inning to lead the Seattle Mariners to a 6-3 win against the Houston Astros on Saturday night.

Nelson Cruz, Seth Smith and Mark Trumbo homered for the Mariners, who have won two in a row and scored at least five runs in back-to-back games for the first time since April 19-20.

Walker (5-6) allowed three runs and five hits, and walked none in 6 1/3 innings. The 22-year-old right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.04 ERA in his last five starts, and has gone at least six innings in all of them.

Evan Gattis and Luis Valbuena homered for the Astros, who blew an early 2-0 lead.

Houston starter Dallas Keuchel (8-3) extended his streak of pitching at least six innings to 26 straight starts - the longest active run in the majors - but had his worst performance of the year. Keuchel's four walks, five earned runs, and three home runs allowed were all season highs.

Things went wrong early for Keuchel. After Gattis and Valbuena hit solo homers in the top of the second to give the Astros a 2-0 lead, Keuchel lost his control. The Mariners tied it in the bottom of the second largely due to four walks in the inning by Keuchel, two coming with the bases loaded. Keuchel hadn't given up more than three walks in any of his previous 14 starts this season.

Carson Smith came on with two on and two outs in the eighth and closed the game, retiring all four batters he faced, for his fifth save.

Cruz's homer in the third inning gave the Mariners a 3-2 lead. It was Cruz's 19th homer, and his first since May 27.

The Mariners extended the lead with solo homers by Smith and Trumbo - his first since being traded to Seattle on June 3.

YOU'RE OUT

Houston's Gattis was called out on fan interference to end the sixth inning when Seattle shortstop Brad Miller attempted to catch his foul pop-up near the seats down the left-field line. The call was held up on replay review, although Astros manager A.J. Hinch disagreed and was ejected for arguing the call.

LOOKING FOR A SPARK

Seattle hopes a return to the past will reinvigorate the worst hitting team in baseball, as the Mariners hired Edgar Martinez - who played 18 years with Seattle - as their hitting coach on Saturday and reassigned Howard Johnson to their minor league system. The Mariners entered Saturday's game with the worst batting average in the majors at .233 and ranked 28th in runs scored.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Houston: 2B Jose Altuve (sore right hamstring) was out of the lineup for the third straight game.

Seattle: RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (right lat strain) made a rehab start for Class A Everett, allowing three hits and one run in 3 2/3 innings.

UP NEXT

Astros: Rookie right-hander Vince Velasquez (0-0, 4.66 ERA) will make his third career start in the final game of the three-game series with Seattle on Sunday.

Mariners: Lefty J.A. Happ (3-3, 3.79) has never lost to the Astros, as he's 3-0 in five career starts against Houston.

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