Houston Astros move closer to AL West title with win over Seattle Mariners

By MoiseKapenda Bower, The Sports Xchange  |  Sept. 15, 2017 at 11:52 PM
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HOUSTON -- Carlos Correa and Evan Gattis recorded multi-hit games, Charlie Morton delivered a quality start, and the Houston Astros inched closer to an American League West pennant with a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros (89-58) reduced their magic number to clinch the division to two games, pending the result of the Los Angeles Angels' game against the Texas Rangers on Friday night.

Houston jumped on Mariners left-hander James Paxton (12-4) for three first-inning runs in his return from a five-week stint on the disabled list.

Correa finished 2-for-4 while Gattis went 2-for-3 with a walk. Both recorded run-scoring hits in support of Morton (12-7), who allowed just one run on five hits and one walk with seven strikeouts over six innings. It marked the first time Morton worked at least six innings while allowing fewer than two runs since a 9-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 16.

Seattle (74-74) had its three-game winning streak snapped but did not lose ground in the chase for the second AL wild card. The Minnesota Twins dropped a 4-3 decision to Toronto.

The Mariners anticipated Paxton making between 50-60 pitches, and he hit that minimum on the nose. However, what was unexpected was the brevity of his outing and his struggles.

Four batters into the bottom of the first the Astros had scored twice as many runs against Paxton as they did in their three previous starts against him this season. When Correa followed an RBI single by Jose Altuve that scored Springer with a run-scoring double, the Astros led 2-0.

Gattis added to the ambush with a single to center field that scored Altuve for a 3-0 lead. When Springer ripped a one-out double to left in the second inning Paxton got the hook, having allowed three runs on four hits and two walks. Before making his first appearance since Aug. 10, Paxton had surrendered just one earned run over 20 innings against the Astros this season.

NOTES: Astros RHP Lance McCullers will throw a bullpen session on Saturday, the result of which will determine his status moving forward. McCullers was scratched from his start on Wednesday due to arm fatigue. Should he complete his bullpen without a hitch, he is likely to start on Tuesday against the White Sox. ... Mariners starters fell to 6-2 with a 3.34 ERA over 14 starts this month. Mariners LHP James Paxton had his streak of quality starts snapped at nine. ... Astros RHP Collin McHugh is available to pitch out of the bullpen after leaving his previous start on Sept. 8 at Oakland with a right middle finger avulsion. McHugh is a candidate to start on Tuesday against the White Sox should RHP Lance McCullers remain limited by arm fatigue.

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