HOUSTON — A big night by Franklin Gutierrez had Seattle manager Eric Wedge wondering what might have been.
“It’s hard not to imagine how much better we’d be as a ballclub if we had him all year or for the last three years for that matter,” Wedge said.
Gutierrez hit a two-run homer after Nick Franklin gave Seattle an early lead with a solo shot and the Mariners held on for a 3-2 victory over the Houston Astros on Thursday night, stopping a six-game slide.
Gutierrez had three of Seattle’s six hits in his third game back from the disabled list. He has played just 20 games this season because of hamstring issues, and missed more than 50 games in each of the previous two seasons with a variety of injuries.
“I’m just happy to be here,” he said. “I just came to try to help my team. I’ve been missing a lot of games due to injuries. It feels good to come back, see the ball better, swing and help my team today.”
Franklin put the Mariners on top with his one-out homer off Jordan Lyles (6-7) in the first inning.
Raul Ibanez reached on a leadoff single in the fourth and Gutierrez connected with one out, hitting a drive to left to push Seattle’s lead to 3-0. He has seven homers in just 73 at-bats this season.
“I’ve been working on my strength to use a little bit more of my legs,” he said. “When you use your legs you can hit the ball better and with power. So as soon as you put a good swing on the ball anything can happen.”
It was Seattle’s first win since Wedge returned to the team on Friday after missing about a month following a mild stroke.
“It’s been about a month and a half,” Wedge said of being part of a win. “I (said) when I was walking on the field that it’s been about a month and a half since I shook hands on the field for multiple reasons. It felt good to get out there and shake hands.”
Seattle starter Erasmo Ramirez (5-1) tied a season high with seven strikeouts in 5 2-3 innings. He allowed two runs and five hits.
Yoervis Medina struck out three in 1 1-3 perfect innings before Danny Farquhar threw a scoreless ninth for his 10th save.
Jason Castro had an RBI double in the fourth and Brett Wallace homered in the fifth, but that was it for Houston, which has dropped three in a row.
Lyles allowed four hits and three runs in six innings.
Ramirez sailed through the first three innings, including striking out the side in the third. L.J. Hoes got Houston’s first hit with a single to start the fourth before Castro’s one-out double sent him home.
Wallace opened Houston’s fifth with a drive to right-center that cut Seattle’s lead to 3-2. Ramirez shaken up a bit with two outs in that inning when he took a comebacker to his foot on a single by Robbie Grossman. He was checked out by trainers and threw a few warmup pitches before retiring Hoes to end the inning.
Jose Altuve doubled with no outs in the sixth inning and Ramirez left after he issued a walk to Chris Carter. Charlie Furbush then retired Wallace to end the inning.
“We had a few opportunities to get some runs there,” Wallace said. “In those situations, you have to do everything you can to try to get the guys in. They made some good pitches when they had to. A couple opportunities that we left out there and those are the ones that you can’t give away.”
Lyles retired eight of the last nine batters he faced after the homer by Gutierrez, with the only baserunner coming when Justin Smoak reached on an error by right fielder Hoes with two outs in the sixth.
Medina threw a perfect eighth inning, including striking out the last two batters. He ended the inning when he caught Castro looking with an 85 mph curveball. Castro threw his bat in disgust after the call.
Lyles last started on Friday, but got the last out of Houston’s win over the Chicago White Sox on Monday for his first career save.
Kevin Chapman followed Lyles with 2 1-3 scoreless innings. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in his first 12 major league appearances, which ties a franchise record.
Grossman robbed Dustin Ackley of a hit with a nifty leaping catch to end the fourth inning. The left fielder was running and jumped high in the air to snag the hard-hit fly ball.
The series continues Friday when Seattle’s top prospect, Taijuan Walker, makes his major league debut against Brad Peacock. The 21-year-old Walker went 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA in his last two starts in Triple-A. … Houston manager Bo Porter said catchers Carlos Corporan and Max Stassi, both on the seven-day concussion list, are making progress. Corporan is ahead of Stassi and believes he could come off the DL next week.