Astros win 9th in row, McHugh gets HR help to beat Mariners
HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Astros have gotten off to the best start in AL behind their pitching.
Their hitters put on quite a show Saturday night.
The surprising Astros matched their longest winning streak in nine years by posting their ninth straight victory, 11-4 over the Seattle Mariners behind Collin McHugh and a lot of home-run support.
Houston hit five homers, including a three-run shot by Jose Altuve and a two-run drive by Evan Gattis.
''That was a pretty explosive night,'' Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. ''We did a lot of damage.''
The Astros, who went 70-92 last year after three straight seasons of at least l06 losses, have their best winning string since a nine-game streak in 2006. They last won 10 straight since a 12-game run in 2004.
This victory gave them the best record in the AL, and their 17-7 start matched the 1980 team for the best in franchise history through 24 games.
Nelson Cruz homered twice, giving him 13 for Seattle. The Mariners homered four times, all of them solo drives off McHugh.
Cruz homered to start the second. Later in the inning, Logan Morrison and Mike Zunino connected back-to-back.
''You know, they always say solo homers won't beat you. We tested that one a little bit,'' Hinch said.
McHugh (4-0) settled down and won his 11th straight decision dating to last August. He gave up four runs in seven innings.
''It helps when your team scores 11,'' McHugh said. ''Our guys did an unbelievable job. Every time they threw a punch, our guys came back and counter-punched and even more. It makes it a little bit easier, breathe a little easier after the guys put you back on top.''
Colby Rasmus, Luis Valbuena and Hank Conger each hit solo home runs for Houston in a night filled with longballs.
''I thought we had good approaches, had some good swings on (McHugh),'' Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. ''Eleven runs will take the wind out your sail a little bit. It's kind of tough to come back from that.''
Gattis' shot gave the Astros a 4-3 lead in the third, and Rasmus followed with a homer.
''They came out swinging hot like early, three runs early,'' Gattis said. ''It was good to at least put up two. And then you have a one-run game with us. I'd take us any day. Like right now we're just rolling.''
Altuve finished Taijuan Walker (1-3) with his homer in the fourth. Valbuena greeted reliever Yoervis Medina with another home run.
Walker allowed eight runs and nine hits. He had given up two runs over his last two starts and had only permitted one home run this season before the Astros tagged him.
''I just feel like I didn't use my fastball enough like I did my last two starts,'' he said. ''First inning I pounded them with fastballs and got groundballs with it and then the second inning I just felt like I didn't throw the fastball enough. They hit my off-speed, hit my mistakes.''
Mariners: RHP Tom Wilhelmsen will throw a bullpen session on Sunday after throwing a 25-pitch bullpen session on Friday. He went on the disabled list April 13 with a hyperextended right elbow.
Mariners: LHP J.A. Happ (2-1) will look to continue his string of success to start the year in the final game of the four-game series against Houston. He struck out a season-high nine against Texas in his last start April 28 and has allowed six earned runs in four starts this season.
Astros: RHP Roberto Hernandez (1-2) goes for his second straight win after earning his first victory since Aug. 26, 2014, in his last start at San Diego. He allowed three runs on six hits in seven innings at Seattle on April 22 in a loss.
DEDUNO EARNS ANOTHER
Astros RHP Samuel Deduno earned a second start Wednesday against Texas after allowing one run on three hits in four innings Friday against Seattle.
''I thought he competed very well and had quite a few first pitch strikes,'' Hinch said. ''His fastball was in the zone, which helped his breaking ball.''
WHAT A CATCH
Houston CF Jake Marisnick saved at least a run and kept the Mariners from getting any momentum in the sixth by making a diving grab on Morrison's deep drive. Marisnick laid out while running up Tal's Hill to make a sensational grab.
''I think everyone in the stadium's jaw dropped,'' McHugh said. ''That's over probably 150 feet to run for a ball from where he was playing. He hit it, and I thought it had a chance to go out in center field the way the ball was carrying tonight. When he turned his back and took off, I was planning to get another ball from the umpire. It was an unbelievable play.''