MLB

Mariners-Astros Preview

After watching Houston rough up their ace in the first inning of the series opener, the Seattle Mariners immediately jumped on the Astros' starter the following day.

Neither club expects that trend to continue with two stingy pitchers - Houston's Lance McCullers and Roenis Elias - taking the mound in Sunday's finale at Minute Maid Park.

The AL West-leading Astros (35-28) snapped a seven-game losing streak Friday in resounding fashion, scoring eight runs in the first and chasing Felix Hernandez after just one-third of an inning in a 10-0 victory.

Seattle (28-34) responded Saturday by plating five runs in the first and three more in the third off Collin McHugh in an 8-1 win after being shut out in its previous two games.

Logan Morrison homered twice, while Nelson Cruz had two hits and is batting .409 over his last six. Morrison's three-run shot in the first marked his first home run since May 12 before he added a two-run blast in the third.

He's hit safely in 18 of his last 19, raising his average from .219 to .258.

"It's unrealistic to think it's going to happen every day, but at the same time it has to happen more often for us," Morrison said. "We have a great team. We know it. We've got to find a way to be more consistent, not only with our at-bats but with our production. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction."

Runs could be more difficult to come by in this contest.

McCullers (2-1, 2.32 ERA) has been solid in five starts since making his major league debut May 18 against Oakland, striking out 36 and walking only six in 31 innings. The 21-year-old has especially found his groove in his last two outings.

The right-hander allowed one run and fanned 11 in a four-hitter to beat Baltimore 3-1 on June 3 before giving up three runs and striking out seven in seven innings of Monday's 3-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

McCullers is close friends with Carlos Correa, the former No. 1 pick who made his big league debut during McCullers' last outing. Correa hit two homers with at least one hit in his first four games before going 0 for 3 with a walk and two strikeouts Sunday.

Correa and the rest of the Astros lineup hopes for more production against Elias (3-3, 2.79), but they'll likely have to do it without Jose Altuve for a second straight game.

George Springer batted leadoff Sunday in place of Altuve, who hurt his hamstring in the first inning of the series opener.

"I have to be smart about this," Altuve told MLB's official website. "It's not going to be easy for me to sit on the bench, but I have to support my team from here."

Elias walked Altuve then allowed a two-run homer to Evan Gattis in the first inning May 1 before giving up a solo shot to Jake Marisnick in the second of Seattle's 4-3 loss.

The left-hander, who is 0-1 with a 2.60 ERA in three career starts against the Astros, will look to keep Houston off the board early this time.

He's allowed two runs or fewer in five of his last six starts, including Tuesday when he gave up one in six innings of a 3-2 win over Cleveland. Elias has given up more than three runs just once in nine outings.

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