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Nelson Cruz, James Paxton power Mariners over Astros

Seattle Mariners Jean Segura, left, and Denard Span, right react after they scored on a double hit by Nelson Cruz in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros, Monday, July 30, 2018, in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)
Seattle Mariners Jean Segura, left, and Denard Span, right react after they scored on a double hit by Nelson Cruz in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros, Monday, July 30, 2018, in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

SEATTLE – James Paxton excelled in his return from the disabled list, Nelson Cruz had a two-run double in the sixth inning and the Seattle Mariners beat the Houston Astros 2-0 on Monday night.

Astros starter Gerrit Cole (10-3) carried a no-hitter into the sixth, but Jean Segura ended it with a two-out infield single. Two batters later, Cruz lined his double down the left-field line.

Cole was perfect through four innings while locked in a duel with Paxton (9-4), who was making his first start since leaving a July 12 game in Anaheim because of lower back inflammation.

Cole retired the first 12 batters he faced, striking out six, until he hit Cruz with a pitch leading off the fifth. After Segura’s single, Denard Span hit a clean single to right-center, and Cruz hit a first-pitch slider inside third base. Segura scored easily, and the ball caromed off the protruding side wall, allowing Span to narrowly beat catcher Max Stassi’s tag after a strong throw by left fielder Marwin Gonzalez.

Paxton was brilliant for Seattle, scattering three hits – two of them infield singles – over seven innings. He struck out eight, did not walk a batter, and threw 59 of his 82 pitches for strikes.

Cole allowed four hits over 6 2/3 innings, striking out eight and walking two.

Mariners reliever Alex Colome covered the eighth and closer Edwin Diaz pitched the ninth for his 40th save. The Mariners improved to 63-43 and cut the lead of Houston (67-41) in the AL West to three games.


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