Astros-Mariners Preview

While their winning streak just came to an end, the Seattle Mariners return home in control of the AL’s second wild-card spot.

Giving the ball to Felix Hernandez could help them increase their slim lead.

Seattle tries to bounce back in Monday night’s series opener against the Houston Astros, who are enjoying one of their best stretches of the year.

The Mariners (78-64) had won five in a row – including the first three at Texas by a 21-9 margin – before losing 1-0 in Sunday’s finale. Seattle couldn’t come up with the big hit, going 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position.

The Mariners are one-half game ahead of Detroit in the wild-card standings.

"As my buddy (former Rangers manager Ron Washington) across the way used to say, ‘That’s baseball,’" manager Lloyd McClendon told MLB’s official website. "I told my guys, ‘It was a great road trip.’ Tough loss today, they battled … We’ll move on."

Hernandez (14-5, 2.18 ERA) had gone 0-2 with a 5.09 ERA over a three-start stretch before winning 2-1 at Oakland on Wednesday. The right-hander limited the A’s to one run and three hits over eight innings, improving to 4-1 with a 1.13 ERA in his last six outings against division opponents.

Hernandez has baffled the Astros since the start of last year, going 3-1 with a 1.41 ERA. He held them to one run and five hits while striking out nine over eight innings in a 6-1 home victory May 23.

Jason Castro is 2 for 12 versus Hernandez and Chris Carter is 1 for 7, but Jose Altuve is 8 for 16 with three doubles in their matchups.

While the Astros (63-80) have lost seven of nine in the series, they aren’t to be taken lightly after winning six of seven overall. Houston, which has posted a 1.88 ERA during that stretch, erased a one-run deficit in the ninth inning to win 4-3 at Oakland on Sunday.

Dallas Keuchel pitched into the seventh and Dexter Fowler drove in the tiebreaking run with a bases-loaded walk. The Astros have now assured themselves of avoiding 100 losses for the first time since going 76-86 in 2010.

"It says we’re going in the right direction," said interim manager Tom Lawless, who improved to 4-1 since taking over last Monday. "We’re making strides and we want to continue to improve. We want to be the team at the top."

Houston’s Brad Peacock (4-8, 5.01) is looking to build on a rare victory, 8-3 over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday. The right-hander allowed three run over 6 1-3 innings for his longest outing in more than two months and first win since July 8.

Peacock has surrendered a combined eight runs over 11 1-3 innings in two appearances against the Mariners this year. Kyle Seager is 6 for 16 with a homer in their matchups and Brad Miller is 4 for 11.

Seager, batting .391 with three homers and six RBIs over a six-game stretch, is 10 for his last 22 against Houston with three extra-base hits and eight RBIs.

Miller is 9 for his last 19 overall with two homers and two doubles, but he’s 5 for 32 in the series this year.

Carter has hit safely in six straight for Houston, going 9 for 22 with three homers and seven RBIs. He’s batting .362 with five homers, four doubles and 13 RBIs over a 12-game stretch in Seattle.

Houston has won eight of its last 11 at Safeco Field.