The Seattle Mariners showed some fight at the end of their longest homestand of the season, but a rally to string together two wins for the first time since mid-May fell short in extra innings Thursday afternoon at T-Mobile Park.
Matt Festa, Seattle’s seventh reliever in a five-hour game, doled out the decisive run in the 14th on a Yuli Gurriel sacrifice fly, and Astros survived a bases-loaded jam in the bottom half for an 8-7 win in the longest game of the season for either club.
The Mariners (26-40) never led, though they tied the game twice, and dropped their eighth of 11 games during the homestand.
“Our guys really competed their tails off today,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “I’m really proud of their effort in continuing to come back. We’re down 5-1 in that game, and we add in the seventh, eighth, ninth, 10th inning. We keep fighting. Really great sign.
“We had a couple chances there to get that winning run across the plate, we just didn’t quite get it done at the end. But, not for lack of effort. I’m really happy with our effort today.”
Twice down to their final out in the ninth and 10th, the Mariners rallied to even the score. Rookie Dylan Moore drew a leadoff walk in the ninth, advanced to second on a fielder’s choice, and Edwin Encarnacion, as he often has this season, delivered with two outs, tying the score at 6-6 with an RBI single.
But, the Astros loaded the bases in the 10th, and while reliever Anthony Bass eventually worked his way out, Josh Reddick pinch-hit and connected on a sac fly that pushed Houston’s lead back to a run.
With the loss looming again in the 10th, Omar Narvaez coolly battled through an eight-pitch at-bat He was down 0-2, worked the count back to 3-2, and crushed a solo homer to again even the score at 7-7. But, the Mariners never completely broke through.
“We had a lot of guys step up today,” Servais said. “We put pressure on all of their back-end bullpen guys, either scored runs against them, or certainly had chances to.”
It took Houston ace Justin Verlander leaving the game for the Mariners to finally do substantial damage in a game that, again, seemed it would slip away early. In usual form, Verlander almost effortlessly worked up and down Seattle’s lineup for six-plus innings. Seattle managed one run in the first, which was more a product of defensive miscues than pitching, before Verlander retired 16 of the next 17 batters.
After the Astros took a quick 3-0 lead in the top of the first, Encarnacion lucked into a two-out double in the bottom half. He hit a routine pop up to shallow center field, and Michael Brantley and Jake Marisnick each closed in on the ball. With several feet between them, each outfielder stared as the ball dropped to the ground. Daniel Vogelbach made the blooper count, plating Encarnacion with a single the next at-bat.
Verlander responded by sitting down Seattle’s next 13 batters in a row. Moore finally broke the streak with a leadoff single in the sixth, and stole second base, but the Mariners didn’t get anything out of the inning.
Vogelbach led off the following inning with his second single of the game, and Domingo Santana added another, giving the Mariners two base runners for the first time in the game. Verlander was removed after throwing 94 pitches, with one out in the seventh. That’s when Seattle finally rallied.
Narvaez singled to load the bases, and Shed Long reached on a fielder’s choice, beating out a potential double-play ball to score Vogelbach. Moore and Mallex Smith each singled in runs to cut the lead to 5-4 before Mac Williamson, pinch-hitting for Mitch Haniger flew out to center, ending the rally.
Haniger left the game with a lower body contusion after a foul ball ricocheted off of him, and was undergoing testing following the game.
“He took a pretty hard shot,” Servais said. “We’ll find out more once we get those tests back.”
In the eighth, Santana singled in Encarnacion to again cut the Astros’ lead to one run, but the Mariners couldn’t quite catch up until the following inning.
The Mariners used an opener for the second time in the series, and got strikingly similar results. Two days after Gearrin served up three runs in a shaky first inning, Austin Adams did the same.
Making the first start of his MLB career, Adams allowed a leadoff single and a walk, creating early traffic. He forced Brantley to ground into a double play, but allowed another single before Robinson Chirinos cranked a three-run home run to give Houston a lead it never lost. Adams walked the next batter, and was pulled from the game without completing the inning.
“I was really really excited,” Adams said. “Scott told me last night I was opening. I thought it was a great opportunity. ... It just wasn’t there today unfortunately, and there’s going to be days like that. Just didn’t get the job done.”
Milone entered the game one out earlier than planned, and gave the Mariners another efficient outing in his fourth appearance of the season. Despite allowing a pair of one-out doubles, he kept the Astros scoreless for the next three frames. His only costly mistake was leaving a fastball waist-high for Alex Bregman to club to left field. The solo shot made it 4-1.
But, Milone didn’t give up anything else, and nearly matched his longest outing of the season, working 5 1/3 innings. He allowed a season-low one run on just three hits, while walking and striking out one each on an efficient 63 pitches.
“I think for me the thing was just to throw strikes, attack the zone, make them hit the ball, and I feel like that’s what I did,” Milone said.
Mariners reliever Roenis Elias allowed a leadoff home run to Jack Mayfield in the seventh, as the Astros extended their lead to 5-1, but got through the inning without further damage.
Making his Seattle debut, Gerson Bautista allowed another Astros run in the eighth on a sac fly — Smith made a diving grab in center to save an extra-base hit with the bases loaded — with made it 6-4, but eventually worked out of the jam with out allowing the game to get out of hand.
Brandon Brennan allowed a leadoff single in the 11th, but tossed a scoreless frame. The Mariners loaded the bases with one out in the bottom half — they loaded the bases twice in extra innings and couldn’t convert either time — but Houston’s Josh James worked out of the jam.
Cory Gearrin posted a scoreless 12th, propped by a timely double play third baseman Kyle Seager ignited, and then recorded a 1-2-3 inning in the 13th.