It’s too early to panic, right?
The Mariners threw away a two-run lead in the eighth inning Tuesday night when Houston stung relievers Charlie Furbush and Danny Farquhar for five runs in rallying to a 6-3 victory at a chilly Safeco Field.
Jose Altuve delivered the killer blow with a three-run double against Farquhar, who took the loss in Monday’s series opener. Altuve had two earlier chances with the bases loaded but made the inning’s final out.
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This was a depressing collapse by the Mariners, who got an encouraging start from Taijuan Walker and built a 3-1 lead against Astros right-hander Collin McHugh through seven innings.
Furbush (0-1) inherited a two-run lead to start the eighth inning but quickly ran into trouble.
Pinch-hitter Robbie Grossman reached on an error by second baseman Robinson Cano, and Marwin Gonzalez followed with a single through the right side. That put runners at first and third with no outs.
Chris Carter drove another single up the middle, and the lead was down to 3-2. That also finished Furbush. In came Farquhar with no outs and runners at first and second.
Jed Lowrie batted for Colby Rasmus and walked, which loaded the bases. Jake Marisnick followed with a single into center, and the Astros were even at 3-3.
Up stepped Altuve, who was hitless in eight previous at-bats in the series and who had left the bases loaded by grounding into a force play in the fourth inning and lofting a routine fly to center in the sixth.
This time, Altuve lashed a drive down the left-field line that scored all three runs. What a disaster. The Mariners succumbed weakly over the final two innings against Houston relievers Pat Neshek and Chad Qualls.
McHugh (3-0) won his 10th straight decision over two years, which is just two victories shy of the club record set by Wade Miller in 2002. And the Mariners dropped to 5-9.
There were silver linings if you look hard.
Walker rebounded from two disastrous starts by limiting the Astros to one run and four hits in 5 1/3 innings. He walked four but matched a career high with eight strikeouts.
Cano had a pair of RBIs, and Brad Miller had a two-out RBI single. Dominic Leone and Carson Smith had strong outings in relief of Walker. Fernando Rodney had a three-strikeout ninth inning.
Nothing but footnotes.
Walker gave up three first-inning runs in each of his two previous starts and faced a early test when the Astros put runners at first and second with one out.
He escaped by striking out Evan Gattis and Jason Castro.
The Mariners then grabbed a quick lead in their first when Dustin Ackley drew a leadoff walk on four pitches, went to second on a wild pitch and to third on a fly to right before scoring on Cano’s grounder to third.
Walker struck out the side in the second inning — for five straights Ks — but opened the third by walking Marisnick, who went to third on Luis Valbuena’s one-out single.
George Springer then sent a looper into short left that Miller ran down from shortstop. Marisnick broke for home as Miller made a back-to-the-infield catch.
Marisnick made a great slide around the tag by catcher Mike Zunino, bit umpire C.B. Bucknor called Marisnick out. The Astros challenged and replays reversed the call.
That makes two challenges in two days on Bucknor calls. And two overturned calls. Also, the game was tied 1-1.
Not for long.
Zunino started the Mariners’ third with a single and scored when Austin Jackson and Cano delivered successive one-out singles for a 2-1 lead.
The Mariners extended their lead after Kyle Seager opened their fourth with a double to right. Seager went to third on a wild pitch before McHugh walked Seth Smith.
Houston’s reliance on defensive shifts paid a dividend when Logan Morrison hit a sharp liner to second, but it backfired when Miller lined an RBI single through the vacated shortstop hole for a 3-1 lead.
The Mariners nursed that lead into the eighth inning.