Gomez, Valbuena help Astros to 9-8 win to sweep Mariners
HOUSTON (AP) During Houston's terrible start to the season both Carlos Gomez and Luis Valbuena struggled.
The pair has turned things around since then and it's helped the Astros do the same.
Gomez had three RBIs and finished a home run shy of the cycle and Valbuena hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the eighth inning to help the Astros sweep the Seattle Mariners with a 9-8 victory Wednesday night.
Manager A.J. Hinch thinks his team feeds off Gomez's energy.
''He had a spectacular night,'' Hinch said. ''He showed off a lot of his strengths. His athleticism, I thought he played good on defense, had a nice running catch in left-center. He doesn't have an off button ... he played a really complete game and we're a completely different team when he's doing his thing.''
The game was tied at 7 with one on and one out when Valbuena launched a towering shot off Edwin Diaz (0-2) to the second deck in right field for his second straight game with a homer.
All of his 11 homers have come since May 7.
''His power's always been there; he's got huge power to the pull side but a lot of that comes with getting a good pitch to hit and doing damage when he does get that pitch,'' Hinch said.
Ken Giles (1-3) struck out two in a scoreless eighth for the win. Luke Gregerson allowed an RBI double to Robinson Cano with one out in the ninth before striking out Dae-Ho Lee with the bases loaded for his 14th save.
The sweep moves Houston into sole possession of second place in the AL West behind Texas.
''I don't think we played particularly well here,'' Seattle manager Scott Servais said. ''They did. They played better than we did, at the end of the day that's what happens. For whatever reason after finishing up strong on the homestand just didn't carry it over down here.''
Houston led by five runs early before Cano, Kyle Seager and Lee all homered in the fourth inning to cut the lead 5-4. The Astros stretched the lead to 7-4 with a two-run sixth before a three-run homer by Seth Smith tied it in the seventh.
Evan Gattis added a solo homer for Houston and Carlos Correa had two hits and an RBI.
Seattle had runners on first and second with one out in the seventh when Smith connected off Michael Feliz to tie it at 7-7.
It was a tough night for both starters. Houston's Mike Fiers allowed five hits and four runs in 3 1/3 innings.
Seattle's Wade LeBlanc also lasted 3 1/3 innings and allowed six hits and five runs - four earned.
Correa had an RBI double in the first and Gomez pushed the lead to 3-0 when he sent two runners home with a double later in the inning.
Gattis opened Houston's second inning with his home run to make it 4-0.
Gomez hit a triple, which landed on Tal's Hill in center field, with two outs in the third to extend the lead to 5-0.
Fiers had allowed just one hit when Cano sent the second pitch of the fourth inning into the seats in right field for his 20th homer to cut the lead to 5-1. It's the seventh season with 20 homers for Cano, making him the sixth second baseman in major league history to hit at least 20 homers in seven seasons.
A walk by Nelson Cruz came next before Seager homered into the second deck in right field to make it 5-3.
After a short coaching visit to the mound, Lee gave the Mariners back-to-back homers for the third time this season with his shot, which also came with two strikes, to get Seattle within one.
Mariners: RHP Felix Hernandez felt good after throwing 45 pitches in a simulated game Wednesday and will make a rehabilitation start for Class-A Everett on Sunday. If that goes well he'll throw at Triple-A Tacoma on July 15 and return to Seattle's rotation on July 20. ... RHP Taijuan Walker was placed on the DL on Wednesday with tendinitis his right foot. Servais said he will visit a specialist soon and they'll determine a plan for his recovery.
Mariners: James Paxton (2-3, 4.24) will start for the Mariners on Thursday when they begin a four-game series at Kansas City. Paxton allowed nine hits and four runs in 5 2/3 innings in a 12-6 win over Baltimore on Saturday.
Astros: Doug Fister (8-5, 3.66) is scheduled to start for the Astros when they open a four-game series against Oakland. Fister looks to get back on track after dropping two straight following a seven-game winning streak.