SEATTLE — If the Seattle Mariners haven’t hit rock bottom yet, they at least found something close to it against the Houston Astros on Monday night.
On consecutive pitches during the decisive sixth inning, two Mariners outfielders crashed into the wall attempting to chase down long drives. Each time, the ball caromed off a glove, off the wall and safely to the ground.
The Mariners’ crash into proverbial wall has been just as hard.
The Astros rocked Felix Hernandez for four runs on four extra-base hits in the sixth inning, and the Mariners lost their seventh consecutive game by a score of 7-2 before a crowd of 14,630 at Safeco Field.
Hernandez (3-1) allowed six runs on seven hits in seven innings to take his first loss of the season. Houston’s four runs in the sixth were all unearned.
The Astros (6-14), who own the American League’s worst record, snapped a seven-game losing streak.
Hernandez was sharp early, setting down the Astros in order through three innings.
Dexter Fowler legged out an infield single (off Hernandez’s glove) for the Astros’ first hit with one out in the fourth. Fowler then stole second on the next pitch, but Hernandez got Jason Castro and then George Springer to ground out to end the inning.
Matt Dominguez pulled an inside changeup from Hernandez into the Astros’ bullpen beyond the left-field fence in the fifth inning for a 2-0 Houston lead.
The Mariners finally got to Houston left-hander Dallas Keuchel (2-1) in the fifth, when Abraham Almonte tied the score at 2-2 with opposite-field double down the first-base line. That scored Kyle Seager (who had singled) and Mike Zunino (who had doubled).
Keuchel scattered six hits over six innings, with two runs allowed, one walk and eight strikeouts.
Mariners batters struck out a combined 14 times.
Another shuffle to the Mariners’ lineup did little to spark their stagnant offense. Dustin Ackley, who entered the day leading the club with a .279 batting average, was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts in his first game of the season as the No. 2 hitter.
Houston came back in the top of the sixth with four runs off Hernandez, all unearned after Seager dropped a throw from Zunino at third base. Seager appeared to take his eye off the ball as Jose Altuve, who led off the inning with a double, slid into third on Fowler’s attempted sacrifice bunt.
Castro had a sac fly to score Altuve and give the Astros a 3-2 lead. With two outs and two strikes, Marc Krauss added a run-scoring double to right.
Alex Presley followed with a towering triple off the wall in right field. Seattle’s Stefen Romero made a valiant, leaping effort, but the ball slipped off the end of his glove and fell for a hit. That made it 5-2.
On the next pitch, Dominguez hit another drive to left. Ackley gave chase and crashed into the wall, but the ball bounced off the wall and fell for a double. That made it 6-2.