Astros win 10th in row, Gattis homers twice to beat Mariners
HOUSTON (AP) Now that Evan Gattis has joined the party, the Houston Astros seem to be celebrating every day.
Gattis homered twice and the Astros won their 10th straight game, boosting the best record in the American League by beating the Seattle Mariners 7-6 Sunday.
''It's been the most fun I've ever had on a team,'' Gattis said. ''I think we might have something special.''
With Gattis cranking away, the Astros extended their top run since a 12-game winning streak in 2004.
Acquired from Atlanta in the offseason, Gattis started the year 0 for 20 with 12 strikeouts. The slugger has reversed that slide, homering five times in six games and connecting three games in a row.
''At some point, you're going to be like: `Am I good?''' Gattis said. ''It's tough. It was kind of an eye opener.''
At 18-7, Houston set a team record for its best record through 25 games. The Astros are coming off a 70-92 season, which followed three straight years of at least 106 losses.
''It's just nice from where we've come from the last couple of years that we lost a lot of games,'' said Chris Carter, who also homered. ''It's nice to have this run we're having.''
Gattis hit a three-run shot in the first and Carter also connected, a day after Houston homered five times in an 11-4 romp.
''We've got a lot of guys contributing that are going in waves of guys that are hot, and that's a good sign that it's not relying on one particular player or one particular pitcher,'' manager A.J. Hinch said.
''It's fun. It's nice at the end of the day to shake hands,'' he said.
Gattis hit a go-ahead solo shot in the eighth inning off Carson Smith (0-1). Smith made his big league debut last year and this was his 21st appearance in the majors - he had not allowed a run in 19 1/3 innings until Gattis homered.
''It cleared by a few feet,'' Smith said. ''It was a tough break. I made a bad pitch, and he took advantage of it.''
''We definitely learned this series that they've got a short porch out there,'' he said.
After allowing the fewest homers in the AL in April (10), the Mariners gave up 11 homers to Houston in the first three games of May.
Pat Neshek (2-0) pitched a scoreless eighth and Luke Gregerson earned his sixth save. Like Gattis, both relievers joined the Astros in the offseason.
Houston has won 14 of 15 and will try to add to its winning streak when its hosts Texas in a three-game series starting Monday night.
Gattis sent a changeup from J.A. Happ into the Crawford Boxes in left field for an early lead. Carter hit another changeup for a two-run homer just below the train tracks in left field for a 5-1 lead in the third.
Brad Miller hit an RBI triple in the third for Seattle's first run. He later tried to score on a fly by Seth Smith to right fielder George Springer, and was originally ruled safe. The Astros challenged, and the replay showed he was tagged out before touching the plate.
''We're going to check on it, but we were told that when a foot is hovering over the plate, it's the same as touching it,'' Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. ''We'll see what they say about the rule, but it is what it is.''
Ahead 6-1, Astros starter Roberto Hernandez gave up three hits in six pitches in the seventh.
After entering Houston on Thursday as winners of five of their previous seven, the Mariners suffered a four-game sweep.
''It was a tough game where they could have laid down, but they fought back and really grinded it out,'' McClendon said. ''They showed a lot of fortitude, which leads me to believe this team is going to be just fine.''
HOUSTON HITTING STREAKS
While Jose Altuve saw his hitting streak of 11 games come to an end, Jake Marisnick extended his streak to 11 games.
Marisnick's first-inning single made him 26 for 65 to start out the season, good for a .400 average. He finished 1 for 4 in the game.
McClendon said after the game the team had optioned relievers RHP Yoervis Medina and LHP Tyler Olson to Triple-A Tacoma. The corresponding moves will be made on Monday, and McClendon didn't give hints as to whether they would be bullpen pitchers or not.
''In the case of both of them, location and execution is important, and it's hard to get it straightened out in the big leagues,'' McClendon said. ''Both of those kids need to go down, get a few things straightened out and they'll be fine.''
Mariners: RHP Tom Wilhelmsen threw a bullpen session Sunday morning and is scheduled to throw a simulated game on Wednesday. He was placed on the disabled list on April 13 with a hyperextended elbow. ... Leadoff hitter Austin Jackson sprained his right ankle in the third when he caught the corner of first base running out a grounder. He left the game and will be re-evaluated on Monday.
Mariners: RHP Felix Hernandez (4-0, 1.82 ERA) goes for his sixth straight win against the Angels in Anaheim, where he has pitched below his high standards. He is 3-5 with a 3.11 ERA in Anaheim and has just one decision in his last seven starts at Angel Stadium.
Astros: LHP Dallas Keuchel (3-0, 0.73 ERA) has helped the Astros win in 10 straight starts, and he'll look to keep that streak going as Houston hosts the Texas Rangers. Keuchel allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings in an April 12 start against Texas.