SEATTLE (AP) In a four-game series that displayed the depth and talent of the Houston Astros starting rotation, it was their No. 5 starter that turned in arguably the best performance.
Charlie Morton pitched seven innings of three-hit ball, Jose Altuve hit a three-run double and the Astros beat the Seattle Mariners 9-2 on Thursday.
After losing the series opener, the Astros won their third straight behind another impressive pitching performance. Morton allowed singles to Robinson Cano, Mitch Haniger and Nelson Cruz, and otherwise baffled Seattle’s lineup.
In the four-game series, Houston’s starters dominated with none of the four allowing more than two earned runs. Seattle was just 15 for 100 against Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers Jr., Gerrit Cole and Morton.
Morton (3-0) was the best of the four and has not allowed a run in three of his four starts this season.
”That can change quick and I know that. In 2015 I had a really good start my first five starts … went into D.C. and I gave up nine runs in two-thirds of an inning,” Morton said. ”My goal is to just go out there and give quality innings and not think about overall how things are going.”
Mixing a fastball that was still in the mid-90s in the seventh inning with a good curveball, Morton struck out eight and walked none. He retired 15 straight between Haniger’s one-out single in the second inning and Cruz’s broken bat hit in the seventh. Morton didn’t allow a runner to reach second base.
”His ability to establish the fastball sets up so many options for him, not just against the Mariners but against any team,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.
Altuve’s two-out double in the fifth capped an inning in which defense didn’t help starter Marco Gonzales. Kyle Seager’s error on Alex Bregman’s grounder to third started the inning, and Marwin Gonzalez followed with a line drive single off Seager’s glove. Josh Reddick drove in one run on a shallow pop up that fell in the outfield, but rather than let Gonzales (1-2) finish the inning, Seattle manager Scott Servais went to reliever Dan Altavilla to face the top of Houston’s order.
Altavilla walked George Springer, and Altuve followed with a shot to right-center for a 4-0 lead. Altuve also had an RBI ground-rule double in the ninth. Reddick and Max Stassi added solo homers.
Seattle got a pair of runs in the eighth inning off Houston’s bullpen on RBI doubles from David Freitas and Jean Segura.
”We got shut down. You have to give Houston credit. Their pitching is as advertised,” Servais said. ”Their guys are really throwing the ball well. They shut us down in this series.”
RARE TRIPLE PLAY
Evan Gattis was at the center of a rare triple play in the fourth inning. With runners at first and second and no outs, Gattis hit a check-swing ground ball to third base. Seager stepped on third and threw to second base to force Carlos Correa.
Gattis finished running to first but apparently believed it was the third out and turned to jog back to the dugout. Seager noticed what was happening, and Cano threw to Daniel Vogelbach, who applied the tag.
”I was really mad at the pitch I swung at and was really mad about grounding into a double play. I don’t really know why I started running to the dugout,” Gattis said. ”At the time I wanted to laugh on the inside because of how stupid it was but it was a 0-0 game. … I think I got so mad I couldn’t think straight.”
It was the 12th triple play by Seattle and first since 2015.
Astros: RHP Ken Giles was unavailable during the series due to back tightness. Hinch said Giles reported the discomfort after the team arrived in Seattle and didn’t get better. The club doesn’t believe Giles will need to go on the disabled list, but his status will be watched closely.
Mariners: 1B Ryon Healy (sprained ankle) is expected to begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Arkansas on Friday with the hope of rejoining the Mariners on their upcoming 10-game road trip. Healy’s been out since injuring his ankle in a postgame workout on April 7 in Minnesota. … C Mike Zunino (oblique) is expected to rejoin the Mariners in Texas this weekend.
Astros: Justin Verlander (2-0) looks to remain perfect on the season as the Astros open a series against the White Sox. Verlander allowed one run on one hit and struck out 11 in his last start.
Mariners: Felix Hernandez (2-2) makes his fifth start. Hernandez pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed just two runs in his last start against Oakland but took the loss.
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