SEATTLE — Rock bottom met the Mariners with a thud by the third inning of yet another homestand gone wrong.
That’s when the lowly Houston Astros really started taking it to Mariners starter Brandon Maurer on Wednesday night, rolling up a five-run lead and leaving little doubt as to how things would end. Six innings later, the Mariners had taken a yawn-inducing 6-1 defeat and became only the second team swept by Houston all season long.
This was the type of series usually dreaded by general managers and managers of the losing side because it tends to get people fired.
Things were already bad in Seattle before the last-place Astros showed up and sandblasted the home side by a combined 25-7 score in the three games.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge had lauded his players pregame for recognizing the urgency of their situation in calling a closed-door team meeting after the prior night’s loss. But there was zero carry-over effect in this game, with rookie Maurer giving up two runs in the second and three more in that third to trail 5-0 before anyone could really break a sweat.
Kendrys Morales got a run back in the fourth with the 100th home run of his career, taking Brad Peacock deep to right.
But it was to no avail, as the Mariners mustered only three hits all game to continue an offensive malaise now well into its second month.
Where the urgency comes in is that there is still more than two weeks of season left to play.
These Astros games were supposed to represent a breather of sorts for a Mariners squad now heading to St. Louis and Detroit for seven games against a pair of clubs leading their respective divisions.
After that, the Mariners face the always-tough — on them, anyway — Angels in Anaheim before returning home to face the suddenly-contending Royals and the first-place Oakland Athletics.
In other words, the total thumping played out here in front of an announced 11,656 fans at Safeco Field might be repeated frequently in the weeks ahead.
The Mariners fell to a season-high 16 games under .500 and are now on pace to lose 90 in a season in which they got to play 19 times against the Astros.
Houston had managed just one sweep all season before this, having taken down the Angels in four straight in late May and early June.
The Mariners finished with a 10-9 record against the Astros, with Houston equaling their mark for the most victories against any one team — the Angels being the other.
The Mariners wound up dropping their final four games of the season to the Astros, all but assuring them of an inferior record to last year’s 75-87 mark. They also lost the final four games to finish this homestand 2-4, following a previous 0-6 mark their last time in here.
Maurer was making a start in place of ailing Felix Hernandez, his first such outing for the Mariners since May 28. He got through the first inning, but then served up doubles to Matt Dominguez and Marc Krauss in the second for the game’s first run.
Carlos Corporan followed with a two-out single to make it 2-0.
In the third inning, Brett Wallace singled to bring in another run and then Dominguez hit a ground-rule double to put runners on second and third.
Chris Carter singled through the left side after that to bring in two more runs and make it 5-0. Maurer was pulled once the inning ended, his pitch count at 66.
The Mariners’ bullpen managed to get through the rest of the game relatively unscathed, but by then it was too late.
Peacock allowed just three hits over six innings and the Mariners didn’t come close to scoring again until the eighth when they loaded the bases.
But Raul Ibanez popped out and the final Seattle threat was extinguished. Houston tacked on another run in the ninth off Hector Noesi, leaving the Mariners at arguably their lowest point yet in a season chock full of them.