MLB

Mariners-Astros Preview

Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano are both locked in at the same time for the AL-West leading Seattle Mariners, and that's certainly bad news for opposing pitchers.

As the star sluggers look to stay hot, the Mariners go after a season-high fourth consecutive victory Thursday night in the opener of a four-game road series against a Houston Astros team hoping to build on its first back-to-back wins.

Seattle (16-11) has taken over the top spot in the division after totaling 21 runs and 41 hits - including six homers - in a three-game sweep at Oakland to open this trip.

Cruz went 3 for 4 with his fifth home run and Dae-Ho Lee had two homers as the Mariners rallied from a four-run deficit in Wednesday's 9-8 win. Cruz's shot was particularly impressive, reaching the upper deck in straightaway center field.

Cruz finished with seven hits in 12 at-bats in the series, while Cano has gone 9 for 17 over his last four games and Kyle Seager 8 for 20 over his past five. The Mariners have hit 21 home runs while averaging 5.4 runs during their current 11-3 stretch.

They're seeking their longest winning streak since a five-game run Sept. 1-6.

"It's fun," Cruz said. "We're playing pretty loose. We're enjoying each other."

Seattle took two of three at Minute Maid Park to begin its winnings streak in September and also won a home series over the Astros last week. Cano went 5 for 12 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in the three games and Ketel Marte was 7 for 13.

Cano's .350 average in 52 games versus Houston is his highest against any AL foe.

Chris Devenski (0-1, 1.45 ERA) will face a difficult challenge in his second start since replacing Scott Feldman in the rotation. The right-hander had a solid outing Thursday, allowing two runs over five innings in a 2-0 loss at Oakland.

The Astros chase their first three-game winning streak after taking the last two of a home series with Minnesota. Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa each went 3 for 5 with a home run and Jason Castro was 2 for 3 with a homer in Wednesday's 16-4 victory.

Houston (10-18), which has dropped its last five series openers, had been batting .184 while averaging 3 runs over its previous eight games.

"Now we just look to carry that momentum," Castro said. "It will be good moving forward to have a couple of wins under our belt moving into the rest of the homestand."

Seattle's Wade Miley (2-2, 5.06) hopes to build on his first shutout after giving up five hits and walking none in Saturday's 6-0 win over Kansas City. Since going 0-2 with an 8.04 ERA in his first three starts, he's 2-0 with a 2.20 mark over his last two.

"I think he's understanding who he is," manager Scott Servais said. "Wade is very aggressive by nature and he wants to attack almost too much."

The left-hander has gone 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA in four career starts versus Houston. Altuve, however, is 7 for 12 with three doubles in the matchup, Evan Gattis is 4 for 8 with two doubles and Carlos Gomez 5 for 15 with a double, a triple and a homer.

The Astros took seven of the 10 home meetings last season.

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