SEATTLE — The end of a losing streak justifies the means.
The Sounders are still working their way back to their best play after a two-game skid. Houston held its own for long stretches of Sunday night’s match, and even the CenturyLink Field turf looked haggard.
But two penalties — one saved, one converted — and a deflected strike changed the game. And Seattle began its run of six matches in 20 days with a gritty, 2-0 victory in front of 50,276 fans at CenturyLink.
“Sometimes when you’re in a little bit of a rut, sometimes you have to fight your way through to a victory,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said.
“It’s not as artistic as you want it to be, or as beautiful as you want it to be, but it’s a little bit of rolling up the sleeves and fighting.”
Sunday marked Schmid’s 200th career MLS victory. He earned his 125th victory in 2009 to become the league’s all-time leader in coaching victories. He is 32 wins ahead of Bruce Arena, who is second on the all-time list.
The win lifted the Sounders (13-6-2) back atop the Western Conference and overall standings with 41 points.
Though Lamar Neagle and Obafemi Martins came out swinging in the Seattle attack, Houston was the more steady threat for the first half-hour.
By the time Boniek Garcia earned the Dynamo a penalty kick with a drive that hit Djimi Traore’s arm in the 25th minute, Houston deserved to be in front on number of chances alone.
Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei disagreed.
Brad Davis stutter-stepped on his way up to take the kick, but Frei didn’t blink. And he pawed Davis’ soft shot out of the bottom corner to give Seattle a reprieve.
“It kept us in the game,” Seattle defender Chad Marshall said. “At 1-0, Houston is a good possession team. They can keep the ball. … It was huge for us to stay in the game.”
Marco Pappa’s goal came in the 69th minute and off a deflected shot from the edge of the box. It felt like the defining moment — an appropriate one at that — until another followed five minutes later.
Ricardo Clark tugged on Martins in the center of the box, and the referee called a penalty. Just like Frei earlier, Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall got a hand to Gonzalo Pineda’s spot kick. But his deflection wasn’t strong enough, and the ball bounced off the turf and into the net.
There were 34 combined fouls and six yellow cards — two of them for Martins — two penalties and a deflected strike.
SEATTLE — Austin Jackson’s rips into left field were all the Mariners needed to produce a 4-2 win over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday afternoon in front of 27,236 at Safeco Field.
Off nearly identical base hits in the second and seventh innings, Jackson drove in all four Mariners runs. The four runs batted in tied Jackson’s career high.
Before Jackson got to the plate in the second, Logan Morrison started everything off with a long single that kicked off the right-field wall. Chris Taylor followed with a short ground ball that White Sox infielder Gordon Beckham grabbed for but missed. And Jesus Sucre loaded the bases after Chicago’s Conor Gillaspie mistimed his own grab of Sucre’s hit to shallow left.
Then Jackson stepped to the plate, with two outs, and doubled into left field to clear the bases, giving Seattle a 3-0 lead.
“That’s a big situation,” Jackson said. “Just put the ball into play, not try to do too much in those situations. I was able to get a pitch out over the plate and got a good swing on it. I found the corner.”
Finding that corner showed how much Jackson has found himself on this team, after being traded from the Tigers right before the July 31 deadline. McClendon spoke of how much Jackson is settling into the team, after playing nine games for Seattle (62-55).
In the bottom of the seventh, Jackson slashed another one to left field and knocked in Taylor, who was on second because of a walk and a Sucre sacrifice bunt.
That hit gave Jackson his sixth three-hit game this season and a career batting average of .429 (21 of 49) against White Sox pitcher John Danks.
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — That was truly a race into the Chase.
A.J. Allmendinger went door-to-door and fender-to-fender over the final two laps with Marcos Ambrose to muscle out a win in Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at the Glen at Watkins Glen International.
The win is Allmendinger’s first in the Sprint Cup Series and will ensure he makes his first appearance in the Chase this season to compete for the series championship.
Kurt Busch finished third, Kyle Larson was fourth and Carl Edwards fifth.
Pole-winner Jeff Gordon took early command of the race, leading the first 29 laps.
Kevin Harvick, expected to be a contender for the win, was forced to pit within the first five laps of the race when he discovered a loose ballast bag (of weight) in his car. He had to pit under green to have it removed from his car.
Ambrose and Allmendinger traded bumps on the restart on Lap 86 and Ambrose briefly moved into the lead before Allmendinger got back around him just before another caution was displayed on Lap 87.