SEATTLE – Ty France hit a game-ending single in the ninth inning and the Seattle Mariners beat the depleted Houston Astros 6-5 on Friday night.
Seattle won its third consecutive game and seventh in nine overall. Mitch Haniger had three hits for the second time this week, while France and Kyle Seager each drove in two runs to help send Houston to its sixth straight loss.
“That was awesome,” France said. “That was my first career walk-off hit. That was pretty special, especially having fans back and the roar, that was incredible.”
The Mariners trailed 5-4 before Evan White connected for a solo drive in the eighth, his first homer of the season.
“White has been killing us ever since he's been in the league,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said of the second-year first baseman.
J.P. Crawford and Haniger opened the ninth with walks against Ryne Stanek (0-1). France's drive off Ryan Pressly landed on the warning track in right-center and hopped over the wall.
Anthony Misiewicz (2-0) worked a scoreless inning for the win after returning from the 10-day injured list earlier in the day.
The short-handed Astros played without four starters — including Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez — who are on the injured list due to COVID-19 protocols. But they still had a 5-2 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh. Alex De Goti drove in two runs with his first major league hit, and fellow rookie Chas McCormick had an RBI double. Jose Urquidy struck out seven in 5 2/3 innings.
“It definitely stings,” Baker said. “I mean, it hurts a lot because that is the first time we've had the lead in a week.”
Seager got the Mariners on the board with a two-run double into the right-field corner in the sixth.
“It seems like he always comes in with that double down the line at the wrong time,” Baker said.
Aledmys Diaz answered for Houston with a two-run double in the seventh, but Haniger drove home a run in the seventh on his third hit. He has at least one hit in 13 of 14 games this season and has reached safely in every one.
France also had a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
“It was really, really nice to come from behind again and we’re getting in the habit of doing that,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. "Just the quality of at-bats late in the game, it was really nice to see guys not putting too much pressure on themselves and just staying with the plan. It’s working out pretty well.”
Baker said pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. was still recovering from an adverse reaction to the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine he received earlier this week.
“He’s fair, you know, he’s still a little woozy,” Baker said.
McCullers gave up six runs in 3 2/3 innings during a 6-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday. It’s unclear how the reaction might affect his next scheduled start.
Astros: LHP Blake Taylor rolled his right ankle trying to run down a groundball near first base in the eighth inning. Baker said X-rays were negative, but Taylor is likely headed to the injured list. ... Baker had no update on the five players who were moved to the injured list due to COVID-19 concerns. He said the players have continued to test negative, but must still sit out due to protocols. ... Baker rested OF Kyle Tucker after he went 0 for 5 at Detroit on Wednesday. Tucker flied out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.
Mariners: Servais said 2020 AL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis (knee) could make his 2021 debut Monday or Tuesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The center fielder went on the injured list with a bone bruise in his right knee sustained in spring training.
Astros: RHP Zack Greinke (1-1, 4.08 ERA) takes the mound after giving up six runs in a loss to the Tigers on Monday, the most he has allowed since joining Houston in July 2019.
Mariners: RHP Chris Flexen (1-0, 4.50) makes his third start since returning to the major leagues from the Korea Baseball Organization. He hasn’t faced the Astros since 2017.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports