Astros use big sixth inning to get 8-4 win over Mariners
Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates scoring a run on Marwin Gonzalez' two-run single in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Astros have a message for those who counted them out of the playoff race after losing four of their last five games.
''This team isn't going to quit,'' George Springer said. ''We're going to go down fighting.''
Springer had three hits, including a two-run double during a six-run sixth inning, and the Houston Astros beat the Seattle Mariners 8-4 on Tuesday night.
The victory leaves Seattle two games behind Baltimore for the second AL wild card and cuts Houston's deficit in the race to 2 1/2 games.
''We've had somewhere between 10 and 20 lives this year where just when you count us out, when you think that we're in a bad spot we seem to fight back,'' manager A.J. Hinch said. ''It's a characteristic that I love about our team.''
The Astros got five hits off Felix Hernandez (11-7) in the sixth, but only two of the six runs scored in the inning were earned because of two errors.
''I was still making good pitches,'' Hernandez said. ''The curveball was down, and it just blooped. I was fine. They just got lucky.''
The game was tied when Springer shot a ground-rule double to right field that made it 6-4. A two-run single by Marwin Gonzalez, which sailed just out of reach of a lunging Hernandez, chased the pitcher and left Houston up 8-4.
''Contact is your friend, and you put some energy back in the dugout and put up a really big number against a pitcher who was conceivably cruising after the first inning,'' Hinch said. ''So I'm proud of our group.''
Houston starter Mike Fiers allowed eight hits and four runs in five innings. Rookie Jandel Gustave (1-0) yielded no hits and no runs with one walk in 1 1/3 innings for his first career win.
Hernandez tied season highs by allowing 10 hits and eight runs, four of them earned, in 5 2/3 innings.
''He gave up a couple in the first, but our offense rebounded and got him in a good spot,'' manager Scott Servais said. ''Not wipe-out stuff by any means, but he was pitching well and deserved a better fate.''
It was his second straight tough start in Houston after he yielded five hits and eight runs in a third of an inning of a 10-0 loss on June 12, 2015, to tie the shortest start of his career. He also struggled against Houston at home earlier this month when he allowed nine hits and six runs in 4 1/3 inning of a 6-0 loss to the Astros on Sept. 16.
The Astros trailed 4-2 entering the sixth before Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa hit consecutive singles with no outs. Yuli Gurriel grounded into a force out that scored Altuve and left Correa out at second. Shortstop Ketel Marte made an error on the play that allowed Gurriel to reach first. Tony Kemp drew a walk before pinch-hitter Alex Bregman's RBI single tied it.
Jake Marisnick then reached on an error by Lind before Springer and Gonzalez drove in two runs each.
Astros: Bregman's pinch hit in the seventh was his first action since leaving a game on Sept. 14 with a right hamstring injury. He was replaced by a pinch-runner after his hit.
Bregman had an idea that he could pinch-hit early in Tuesday night's game. But since he had been out so long, coming up in that situation had him a little bit rattled.
''That might have been more nerve-wracking than my first at-bat here,'' he said.
Hinch was confident that he could deliver there despite the long layoff.
''He's Alex Bregman; he's sort of never out of an at-bat,'' Hinch said. ''His competitiveness, his readiness, he's been bouncing off the walls trying to get back in the game. He almost couldn't hold back his smile, how good he felt.''
Mariners: James Paxton (5-7, 3.72) is scheduled to start for Seattle on Wednesday. Paxton allowed five hits and one run while striking out nine in seven innings for a win over Minnesota in his last start.
Astros: Doug Fister (12-12, 4.42) will pitch for Houston on Wednesday. Fister has had a tough time lately, losing his last four decisions with the Astros dropping each of the last six games he's started.