SEATTLE — James Paxton was perfect through five innings against the Houston Astros on Saturday night. It wasn’t enough for the Seattle starter.
Paxton gave up two runs in the sixth and the Mariners weren’t able to capitalize on late chances in a 2-1 loss.
The Mariners and Astros are now both 78-70, tied with Detroit three games behind Baltimore and Toronto in the AL wild-card race.
Paxton (4-7) retired the first 15 batters before running into trouble in the sixth.
Teoscar Hernandez got the Astros’ first hit to lead off the inning, with 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.
“I think I just left a couple balls over the middle a little bit too much in that inning,” Paxton said. “It’s unfortunate that they bunched up some hits there in that one inning.”
Paxton pitched through the seventh, giving up four hits with an intentional walk and seven strikeouts.
“Heck of a game by Paxton, just really in total control,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “They put a little rally together there, I thought he was going to get out of it. Then he left the ball up to Gurriel, who put a good swing on it. Coming into the game, I thought if we could hold them to two runs, we’d be in pretty good shape.”
Mike Fiers (11-7) gave up singles to the first two batters he faced, but allowed only one more hit over six scoreless innings. 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.
Fiers was coming off one of his worst starts of the season, giving up seven runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings in a 9-5 loss to the Cubs.
Ken Giles pitched the ninth for his 11 save in 15 chances.
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.
“They’ve thrown the ball real well,” Seager said. “When we have been able to get guys on base, they’ve made some good pitches and gotten out of stuff. That was a big hit by Seth to get us going there, but we really weren’t able to get too much more than that.”
Mariners 1B Adam Lind missed his fifth straight game with a sprained finger on his right hand. Seattle manager Scott 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.