HOUSTON (AP) On a day when the Houston Astros cut their magic number to one for clinching the AL West title, they were already looking ahead to accomplishing another goal.
”Winning the division (will be) great but at the end of the day all you want is home-field advantage,” said Carlos Beltran, who had three hits and two RBIs in Houston’s 8-6 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.
Dallas Keuchel pitched six effective innings to help the Astros (90-58) reach 90 wins for the first time since 2004. They can secure the franchise’s seventh division title with one more win or a loss by the Los Angeles Angels, who beat Texas 2-0 Saturday night.
”Getting 90 wins for me personally is a highlight just because of how many lean years there have been,” said Keuchel, who was with the team for the last two of three straight 100-loss seasons from 2011-13.
Houston had the best record in the AL for most of the season before Cleveland’s 22-game winning streak helped put the Indians atop the standings at 92-57.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch is proud of how his team has been playing down the stretch.
”They’re getting after it,” he said. ”They see what’s at stake. They’re playing hard. They’re playing well, which is a good sign.”
A day after scoring three runs in the first, the Astros jumped on the Mariners again, scoring four times against Erasmo Ramirez (5-6) in the second inning.
”He’s had that happen a couple of times where he’s fallen off the rails a little bit,” manager Scott Servais said. ”Just command and stuff wasn’t sharp in the second inning.”
Keuchel (13-4) allowed one run – Jean Segura’s 11th homer in the sixth – and four hits, bouncing back nicely from a rocky performance in his previous start. The 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner issued a season-high four walks in 5 2/3 innings in a 10-2 loss at Oakland last Sunday.
Joe Musgrove allowed a solo homer to Mitch Haniger with two outs in the ninth before striking out Robinson Cano for his first save.
George Springer and Josh Reddick had two hits and two RBIs apiece for the Astros, who have won three in a row.
The Mariners scored four runs in the eighth. Cano hit a two-run single and Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager had RBI singles before Musgrove came in and retired three in a row.
The Astros jumped in front on Derek Fisher’s RBI double with two outs in the second. Springer followed with a two-run single and Reddick doubled home a run to make it 4-0 Houston.
Altuve and Carlos Correa hit consecutive singles with no outs in the fifth before a third single – this one by Beltran – scored Altuve and chased Ramirez. Houston tacked on another run when Correa scampered home on Alex Bregman’s double play.
Ramirez allowed eight hits and walked three in four-plus innings.
Mariners: Servais said there was nothing physically wrong with James Paxton a day after he got just four outs in his first start since returning from the disabled list on Friday night. Servais said he was just ”out of whack” on the mound after sitting out since Aug. 10 with a strained pectoral muscle.
Astros: RHP Lance McCullers threw a bullpen session and the Astros will see how he feels on Sunday before deciding if he’ll start on Tuesday against the White Sox. He was scratched from his scheduled start on Wednesday after experiencing arm fatigue during pregame throwing.
WHAT A RELIEF
Seattle’s Ariel Miranda made his first relief appearance in the sixth after 29 starts this season. He struck out one in a scoreless inning in his first relief appearance since Aug. 9, 2016.
”We’ll use him. Keep him fresh, keep him going,” Servais said. ”If we do need to start him we can or we can bring him out of the bullpen.”
Mariners: Andrew Moore (1-3, 5.36 ERA) is scheduled to start on Sunday. Moore allowed one hit and one run in six innings of relief in his last outing.
Astros: Justin Verlander (12-8, 3.58 ERA) will make his first home start on Sunday since being traded from the Tigers on Aug. 31. Verlander, who has started twice for the Astros on the road, was great in his last start, allowing just one hit in eight innings of a 1-0 win over the Angels.
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