HOUSTON – Astros rookie Jake Meyers homered and drove in four runs as Houston jumped on Yusei Kikuchi early and sailed to an 11-2 win over the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.
“This is the kind of game we’re looking for to create some momentum and build some confidence and start a winning streak,” Houston star Jose Altuve said.
Kikuchi (7-8) allowed three hits but was done in by an error behind him and four walks, which equaled a season high, over 1 2/3 innings in his shortest start this year. He gave up six runs, four earned.
“That one got away from us very quickly," Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “Not what we were looking for, obviously. Yusei was not on top of his game or anywhere near it."
The victory ended a two-game skid for the AL West leaders and snapped Seattle’s five-game winning streak.
Houston starter Lance McCullers Jr. (11-4) permitted four hits and two runs with seven strikeouts in six innings for his third consecutive win. His 11 wins are a career best.
“For me it’s about just giving us a good chance to win ... and working toward that AL West title," McCullers said.
Kikuchi faced Houston for the third time in four starts and for the sixth time this season. He pitched seven shutout innings against the Astros in his last start but did not factor in the decision in a 4-0 win last Tuesday.
Things haven’t gone nearly as well for him in Houston this year, and Monday was his second straight tough start at Minute Maid Park after he tied a career high by permitting seven runs in 2 2/3 innings on Aug. 20.
This time, he walked Carlos Correa, Yuli Gurriel and Kyle Tucker to load the bases with no outs in the second. Aledmys Díaz reached on a fielder’s choice as an error by second baseman Abraham Toro allowed two runs to score.
Two pitches later, Meyers sent a changeup from Kikuchi to left field for a three-run homer that extended the lead to 5-0.
“Today he couldn’t find the plate ... and we took advantage of it," Astros manager Dusty Baker said.
Altuve doubled with one out and Yordan Alvarez’s RBI double with two outs made it 6-0 and chased Kikuchi.
“I would term it as non-competitive misses," Servais said. “Based on his last outing, I certainly didn’t expect to see what we saw tonight. Coming into the game there was no idea that it would be a lack of stuff."
Toro, traded from Houston in July, drove in two runs on a double in the third to cut the deficit to 6-2.
Meyers added an RBI single in a two-run fifth to push the margin to 8-2.
Kyle Tucker hit a two-run double as the Astros tacked on three more in the sixth.
The Mariners loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, but Cal Raleigh grounded into a double play to end the game and give Brandon Bielak his first career save.
Bielak allowed one hit and four walks in three scoreless innings.
Astros: Baker said RHP Zack Greinke (health and safety protocols) could return to the ballpark and throw a bullpen this weekend. Baker isn’t sure when Greinke will return to the rotation. ... RHP Andre Scrubb (right shoulder strain) struck out two and walked one in one inning during his second rehabilitation appearance for Triple-A Sugar Land. ... RHP Pedro Báez (right shoulder soreness) has started throwing on flat ground.
INF Marwin Gonzalez came in as a defensive replacement to start the eighth inning in his first appearance for Houston this season after being selected to the roster Sunday. Gonzalez spent his first seven major league seasons with the Astros, helping them to a World Series title in 2017, before signing with Minnesota in 2018. He received a loud ovation when he came to the plate in the eighth inning.
Gonzalez started the season with the Red Sox, but was released Aug. 16.
Houston RHP Jake Odorizzi (6-7, 4.32 ERA) opposes Logan Gilbert (5-5, 5.14) when the series continues Tuesday night.
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