SEATTLE — Mike Fiers was coming off perhaps his worst start of the season. He followed it up with one of his best at a crucial time for the Houston Astros.
Fiers pitched six scoreless innings Saturday night as the Astros beat the Seattle Mariners 2-1.
Houston pulled into a tie with Seattle and Detroit in the AL wild-card race, three games behind Baltimore and Toronto.
In his last start, Fiers (11-7) gave up seven runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings in a 9-5 loss to the Cubs. Before Saturday’s game, Houston manager A.J. Hinch praised Fiers’ perseverance, a quality that paid off against Seattle.
“I do expect him on any given night to come out and give a good performance,” Hinch said. “This is a good ballpark for him to pitch in. When he throws strikes and mixes his pitches, he’s as good as we’ve got.”
Fiers gave up singles to the first two batters he faced, but allowed only one more hit. It was the third time Fiers didn’t allow a run in 27 starts this season, and the three hits allowed also equaled his season best.
“We’ve got a great starting rotation,” Fiers said. “Maybe things haven’t gone the way we’ve wanted them to be, but we’re still going out there and trying to do our job and not worry about everybody else. Just go game to game.”
The Astros needed a strong pitching performance, as Seattle starter James Paxton (4-7) dominated early. Paxton was perfect through five innings before allowing both runs in the sixth.
“At one point you get a little nervous, when you get to the middle part of the game and we hadn’t had a baserunner,” Hinch said. “We just had to wait him out to get a good pitch.”
Teoscar Hernandez got the Astros’ first hit to lead off the sixth, a line drive that had Paxton ducking out of the way. Tyler White followed with a double, putting runners at second and third.
After Jake Marisnick grounded out and Paxton struck out George Springer, Yuli Gurriel drove both runs home with a single to give the Astros a 2-0 lead.
Paxton pitched through the seventh, giving up four hits with an intentional walk and seven strikeouts.
The Mariners had chances to rally in the late innings but fell short.
Chris Devenski relieved Fiers in the seventh inning and gave up singles to Kyle Seager and Leonys Martin, putting runners on first and second with two outs. It was the first time the Mariners had multiple baserunners in the game, but Devenski got out of the jam by striking out Mike Zunino after running the count full.
In the eighth, Nori Aoki beat out an infield single for his third hit of the game, and Seth Smith followed with an RBI double off Luke Gregerson to cut the Astros lead to one.
Gregerson kept Seattle from adding any more, getting Robinson Cano to strike out on a check swing and Nelson Cruz with a pop out to second to end the inning.
“Our guys are a little anxious. I think you can see it,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “There’s no doubt that we’re a better offensive club than we’ve shown the last few nights.”
Mariners 1B Adam Lind missed his fifth straight game with a sprained finger on his right hand. Servais said Lind is day to day.
Astros: RHP Doug Fister (12-11, 4.17 ERA) will start the series finale. Fister has lost three straight decisions, with his last win coming Aug. 22.
Mariners: LHP Ariel Miranda (4-1, 4.10) will make his eighth career start and first against Houston. He has earned the win in each of his last three starts.