Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Justin Smoak crushed a two-run homer during an eight-run seventh inning as the Seattle Mariners held on to defeat the Houston Astros, 9-8, in the middle contest of a three-game set.
Michael Saunders and Robinson Cano drove in two runs apiece for Seattle, which has won four of its past five games. Hisashi Iwakuma (1-0) made his season debut and earned the win after tossing 6 2/3 innings and allowing four runs on six hits with three strikeouts.
"I thought his breaking ball and his split were great today," said Mariners catcher Mike Zunino of Iwakuma. "It was pretty impressive for his first time out."
Chris Carter and Jonathan Villar both homered, while Marwin Gonzalez had three hits for the Astros, who have dropped three of their last four. Dallas Keuchel (2-2) pitched six-plus innings, giving up four runs on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
"I was frustrated a little bit," said Keuchel. "Out of the gate I didn't really feel too well."
Stefen Romero stroked his first major-league triple on a fly ball to right with one out in the sixth. Cano's single to left brought him home to make it a 2-1 game.
Seattle's offense exploded to take a 9-2 lead in the seventh, as Keuchel issued three consecutive walks to start the inning. Jose Cisnero took the mound and gave up a bases-loaded walk to Zunino that scored Smoak. Saunders doubled to right and brought home Cole Gillespie and Brad Miller. Romero then laced a single through the hole into left field for a 5-2 advantage.
The rally continued as Cano stroked an RBI single to score Saunders. Romero tried to reach third on the play, but was thrown out. Kyle Seager smoked a line drive to the center-field wall. Cano hustled around third and slid into home, beating out the throw as the ball skipped through the legs of catcher Jason Castro. The Mariners batted around and Smoak crushed a home run to left that scored Seager and capped off the eight-run inning.
The Astros answered back with four runs in the bottom half of the frame. Carter crushed a solo shot to left. Two batters later, Gonzalez got on board with a single to end Iwakuma's outing. Dominic Leone took the mound and was greeted with a two-run homer from Villar. Altuve walked and then stole second before he raced home on Dexter Fowler's single that Miller couldn't field cleanly.
Houston got within one in the eighth. Carter's deep flyball to center scored Matt Dominguez and Alex Presley brought home Carter with a single to right, making it a 9-8 score. Gonzalez was hit by a pitch and Villar walked to load the bases with two outs, but Fernando Rodney took the mound and got Altuve to fly out to right.
Rodney hit Fowler with a pitch to start off the ninth. He settled down to strike out Castro and Dominguez and got Marc Krauss to fly out for his seventh save of the season.