Maldonado’s homer in eighth gives Houston Astros 3-2 win over Seattle Mariners

Houston Astros' Martin Maldonado celebrates after hitting a home run against the Seattle Mariners during the eighth inning of a baseball game Saturday, July 8, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox) (Kevin M. Cox, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – Martín Maldonado hit a tiebreaking solo home run in the eighth inning to lift the Houston Astros to a 3-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night.

The game was tied at 2-all with one out in the eighth when Maldonado sent a slider from Andrés Muñoz (2-2) 371 feet to left-center to put the Astros on top.

The shot snapped an 0-for-21 hitless streak.

“It felt really good, but I helped the team win and that was the most important thing about it,” he said.

The Mariners squandered a chance to take the lead in the top of the inning when Hector Neris (5-2) struggled with control. He hit Ty France with a pitch to start inning and France moved to second on a wild pitch. Neris then walked Teoscar Hernandez and Eugenio Suárez to load the bases.

But he escaped the bases-loaded jam by striking out pinch-hitter Cal Raleigh on three pitches, retiring pinch-hitter Mike Ford on a pop out and fanning José Caballero to end the inning.

“That was huge,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Especially with their pitching staff and the way we haven't been scoring that often.”

Neris screamed and beat his chest as he left the mound to a huge ovation.

“We had them against the ropes and couldn’t deliver the knockout punch,” manager Scott Servais said. “On the road, you’ve got to score and not just, like, get one in that inning. In my mind, I’m hoping we get two or three when you get the bases loaded. Then you look up and he wiggled his way out of it."

Ryan Pressly walked Julio Rodríguez with two outs in the ninth but retired France on a fly ball to get his 20th save.

Kyle Tucker doubled with an RBI and Alex Bregman drove in a run for the Astros, who snapped a two-game skid and collected their 50th win of the season.

Caballero had two hits and an RBI for the Mariners, who were 2 for 8 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 runners.

Houston starter Framber Valdez allowed five hits and two runs with six strikeouts in six innings.

“This game was obviously very important for everybody here,” Valdez said in Spanish through a translator. “Nobody gave up and the most important thing happened, which was that we won.”

Rookie Bryan Woo yielded three hits and two runs in six innings in his seventh major league start. He was great after a tough first inning.

Jeremy Peña singled with one out in the first and scored on Tucker’s double to right field to put Houston up 1-0. Tucker advanced to third on the play on a throwing error by right fielder Dylan Moore.

Bregman then singled to left field to score Tucker and make it 2-0.

Woo settled down after that, retiring the next 16 batters. The Astros didn’t have another baserunner until Tucker walked with two outs in the sixth inning. Tucker stole second base, but Woo retired Bregman to end the inning.

Caballero singled with no outs in the third and stole second and third with one out. J.P. Crawford’s single that sailed over Peña’s head scored Caballero to cut the lead to 2-1.

Hernandez opened the fourth with a double to left field before Suárez walked. Hernandez stole third with two outs in the inning and scored on Caballero’s grounder to center field to tie it at 2.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP José Urquidy (right shoulder inflammation) is scheduled to throw a two-inning simulated game Sunday. If that goes well, the next step will be a rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Sugar Land. … DH Yordan Alvarez (right oblique strain) took batting practice on the field for a second straight day Saturday. Baker said he might face Urquidy in his simulated game Sunday.

UP NEXT

Seattle RHP Logan Gilbert (6-5, 3.82 ERA) opposes RHP Brandon Bielak (4-4, 3.81) when the series wraps up Sunday.

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