Posted: Apr 22, 2014 12:44 AM
Updated: Apr 22, 2014 12:44 AM
SEATTLE (AP) Off to one of the worst starts to a season on offense in a decade, the Houston Astros busted out of their slump against one baseball's best pitchers.
Matt Dominguez homered and drove in three runs as the Astros broke a seven-game skid with a 7-2 win over Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.
"I think the guys really accepted the challenge today," Houston manager Bo Porter said. "Having arguably one of the best pitchers in our league on the mound for those guys tonight, I felt like our guys really locked into the game plan."
Houston began the night with a .192 batting average, the lowest for any major league team through 19 games since the 2003 Detroit Tigers (.180), according to STATS. The Tigers went on to lose 119 games. The Astros collected nine hits on Tuesday, five of which went for extra-bases, to raise their average to .196.
Early on, though, it appeared the Astros were headed for another miserable night offensively after Hernandez allowed just a walk to the first 12 batters. Even after Dexter Fowler's single in the fourth, Hernandez kept the Astros in check.
Dominguez provided an offensive jolt when he broke a scoreless tie with a two-run home run over the visitor's bullpen in left field in the fifth. Dominguez's line-drive followed a single by Alex Presley, which had been just the second hit of the game for the Astros.
"He's one of the best pitcher's in the game," Dominguez said of Hernandez. "I think he left some balls up tonight and we were able to capitalize on (them)."
The Mariners answered in the bottom of the fifth with a pair of runs to tie the game 2-all, but the Astros were able to retake the lead in the sixth by capitalizing on a Seattle error.
After Jose Altuve led off the sixth with a double, Mariners catcher Mike Zunino fielded a bunt by Fowler and attempted to throw out Altuve at third base. Zunino's throw arrived in time and on the mark, but Seager dropped the ball as he moved to tag Fowler.
Jason Castro followed with a sacrifice fly to score Altuve and give the Astros a 3-2 lead. Hernandez looked as if he'd escape further damage by striking out George Springer, but Marc Krauss, Alex Presley and Dominguez hit a run-scoring single, triple and double, respectively.
Marc Krauss added a solo home run in the eighth.
Dallas Keuchel (2-1) struck out a season-high eight and deftly navigated the Mariners for six innings, allowing six hits and a walk. Keuchel allowed just two runs, both coming in the fifth when Abraham Almonte drove in a pair with a double.
Chad Qualls, Matt Albers and Josh Fields combined to allow just one hit over the final three innings for Houston.
It is the seventh straight loss for Seattle, which is the longest active streak in the majors.
"When you lose seven in a row you're looking for a lot of things ... you're looking for pitching you're looking for defense, you're looking for hits," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "One thing I tell the players, the only people that will right the ship is us."
Hernandez (3-1) took the major league lead with 43 strikeouts after recording four, but was unable to avoid his first loss of the season after allowing four unearned runs in the pivotal sixth.
NOTES: RHP Collin McHugh will be recalled by Houston from Triple-A on Tuesday to replace the injured Scott Feldman in the rotation. He will likely be limited to about 85 pitches. ... Seattle RHP Taijuan Walker, on the DL with right-shoulder inflammation, is scheduled to see a doctor on Wednesday. If all goes well, Walker will resume throwing. ... McClendon said LHP James Paxton is on a timetable to return six to eight months from when he strained his left lat muscle on April 9.