SEATTLE (AP) — Felix Hernandez struck out nine over eight strong innings for his third straight victory, Willie Bloomquist hit his first home run since 2011, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Houston Astros 6-1 on Friday night.
Hernandez (6-1) allowed only five hits and continued a strong last two weeks on the mound. After going more than a month between victories, Hernandez has rediscovered his form. He has struck out 21 and walked just two over his last three starts.
Bloomquist drove in three runs, but the highlight was his two-run homer just inside the left-field foul pole in the sixth. It was his first long ball since Aug. 10, 2011, when Bloomquist was playing for Arizona, a span of 626 at-bats. Bloomquist’s homer came on the first pitch after Mike Zunino had doubled off the top of the wall, missing a homer by inches.
Bloomquist rounded the bases with a wry smile on his face and appeared to be catching plenty of grief in the dugout for the long lapse between homers. His last homer also came against Houston – when the Astros were still a National League team – and led off the bottom of the first inning.
Kyle Seager also drove in three runs with a two-run single in the first and a broken-bat blooper in the seventh. Robinson Cano also had two hits, raising his batting average to .326.
The only batter to cause Hernandez fits was Jose Altuve, who improved to 8-for-16 all-time against Seattle’s ace. Altuve had an RBI single in the third, doubled in the fifth and lined a single off Hernandez’s left calf in the eighth. Hernandez stayed in and started an inning-ending double play from Dexter Fowler to finish off the eighth.
It was the second straight start Hernandez pitched eight innings.
Houston’s Rudy Owens made his major league debut after getting called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City on short notice. The Astros decided to skip Brad Peacock’s scheduled start after he experienced soreness in his forearm. Owens got the call and after struggling through the first inning settled down. He kept Houston within 3-1 heading into the sixth despite allowing a baserunner in every inning.
The game got away from Owens (0-1) in just a couple of pitches. After giving up the double to Zunino, Owens watched Bloomquist hit the first pitch out. He got James Jones, but was lifted after giving up a two-out walk to Stefan Romero.
Owens allowed nine hits and five runs in his debut.
NOTES: Mariners RHP Taijuan Walker (shoulder) threw a three-inning simulated game Friday and said he feels ready to go out on a rehab assignment. Walker has not pitched in a game this season. … Houston OF George Springer was held out of the lineup for second straight day after injuring his hip on Wednesday. … Jones’ hitting streak extended to 13 games with infield single in the fourth.