SEATTLE — Thanks to some late offense and a strong performance by the bullpen, the Houston Astros headed off to Southern California with momentum for the final leg of their road trip.
Colby Rasmus and George Springer each homered to break open a one-run game, and the Astros avoided a sweep with a 6-2 win over the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.
"Definitely a big, big win for us," Rasmus said. "With the way the game was going early on, pitchers and hitters, we were just battling. A lot of good things going on, but not a lot of runs. That's baseball. We needed it today. Big time."
Despite a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, things looked bleak early on for Houston. Rookie starter Vincent Velasquez struggled with his command, walking three batters in the first inning. Seattle tied the game, but Velasquez was able to prevent further damage by striking out Brad Miller with the bases loaded.
Velasquez ran into more problems in the fourth, but Tony Sipp came on in relief and retired two straight to strand runners at the corners.
Velasquez allowed only two hits in 3 1-3 innings. But he walked four and gave up a run, and was pulled after throwing 93 pitches.
"That's about as many pitches as you can throw in the shortest amount of time," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I will say, getting out of that first inning with one run, regardless of how he sort of got through it, was a real key in this game. Really kept us in the game, where they could've really opened it up."
Five relievers followed Velasquez, combining to allow two hits in 5 2-3 innings. Will Harris (4-0) went 1 1-3 scoreless innings for the victory.
The bullpen was given a bit of breathing room in the seventh when Rasmus hit a two-run homer. Springer added a solo shot in the ninth, his 12th homer of the season.
Springer led off the game with a single, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Evan Gattis.
With the score 1-all, Rasmus doubled leading off the second. He scored on Luis Valbuena's single.
J.A. Happ (3-4) allowed three runs — two earned — in five innings.
"I thought J.A. pitched behind the count early in the ballgame," Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. "As the game went on, he started to find his groove and really, if you think about it, he pitched well enough to win."
Logan Morrison scored twice for the Mariners. Nelson Cruz singled him home in the first and Robinson Cano had a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
SPRINGER SPARKING OFFENSE
Springer extended his career-high hitting streak to 14 games, and his ability to contribute offensively in a multitude of ways from the leadoff spot has impressed.
"He's certainly setting the tempo for us very early for us in games," Hinch said. "He's a real threat. He can steal bases, he can do a lot. Having him be our energy, be at the top of the order during this stretch has been a big key. He jump-starts us in a lot of different ways."
HAPP'S RECORD ENDS
Happ had allowed two runs or fewer in his first six home starts, which tied a club record.
Astros: Hinch said 2B Jose Altuve still was not ready to start due to a sore right hamstring.
Mariners: Hisashi Iwakuma (strained lat) said his body felt good, one day after he threw 56 pitches in 2 2-3 innings during his first rehab start at Class A Everett. McClendon said Iwakuma will need at least two more rehab starts before being reinstated from the disabled list.
Astros: Brett Oberholtzer starts Monday night at the Los Angeles Angels.
Mariners: Seattle continues its eight-game homestand when ace Felix Hernandez faces the AL Central-leading Royals.