HOUSTON – Wild and improbable. And just maybe one to remember down the road.
Kyle Seager and Danny Valencia lifted the Mariners to a 9-7 victory over Houston by opening the 10th inning Monday night with homers against reliever Tony Sipp.
That came after Yovani Gallardo pulled a miraculous escape in the Houston ninth by pitching out of a first-and-third jam with one out and a bases-loaded jam with two outs.
Shortstop Jean Segura had three assists in the inning — and two were web-gem quality. The other was merely high quality and big league.
“That’s what we’re here for,” Segura said. “If you go to the playoffs, that’s the kind of game you’re going to play. As a team, that’s everybody’s goal — to go to the playoffs.
“We’re not far back in the wild card. I know the division title is pretty tough because Houston, it’s incredible how they’ve been playing. We’ve got a chance.”
That chance is looking better. This makes five straight victories for the Mariners, including four in a row coming out of the All-Star break. They are 1 1/2 games back in the wild-card race with 68 games to play.
“We talked coming out of the break,” manager Scott Servais said, “what it was going to take for us to get back to playing the kind of baseball we’re capable of. And that’s competing every night.
“Have a little swag when you go out there. Feel good about yourself.”
This was a feel-good victory.
“We’ve certainly played our share of tough games here,” Seager said. “I don’t know any numbers, but I feel we’ve been on the wrong side of a lot of them. It’s nice to win a game like this.
“It’s nice to win a game here like this against that team.”
The Mariners are back to .500 at 47-47 — and, boy, did they do it the hard way. They turned to Gallardo, who had not pitched since July 6, after failing to hold onto leads of 5-2 and 7-6 with a fatigued bullpen.
Nick Vincent and Edwin Diaz pitched for a fourth straight day; Vincent got his fourth straight hold, while Diaz got his fourth straight save. Steve Cishek and Tony Zych pitched for the third time in four days.
The Mariners built a 5-2 lead against Houston starter Lance McCullers, who had never given up more than three earned runs in 27 previous career starts at Minute Maid.
Houston struck back with four two-out runs in the sixth inning for a 6-5 lead. Carlos Beltran knocked out Mariners starter Ariel Miranda with a two-run homer before James Pazos and Zych gave up the go-ahead run.
The Mariners pulled even on Nelson Cruz’s booming homer in the seventh against reliever Chris Devensky before Mike Zunino gave the Mariners a 7-6 lead with a homer in the eighth against Luke Gregerson.
Houston answered later in the inning against Vincent after singles by Beltran, Brian McCann and Alex Bregman loaded the bases with no outs.
Vincent struck out Jake Marisnick before Servais opted for Cishek to face George Springer, who tied the game with a sacrifice fly to center. Cishek held the tie by retiring Jose Altuve on a fielder’s-choice grounder.
The drama peaked in the Houston ninth after Josh Reddick led off with a double against Gallardo. Segura made a spectacular rolling stop and throw to retire Marwin Gonzalez, but Reddick moved to third.
That prompted an intentional walk to Yuli Gurriel, who stole second. The Mariners shortened their infield, and Segura handled a sharp grounder by Nori Aoki and threw out Reddick at the plate.
After an intentional walk to McCann loaded the bases, Bregman hit a grounder into the short-third hole. Segura reached the ball, turned and threw to second for an inning-ending force.
“It was a baseball play,” Segura said. “I was just trying to catch the baseball. I knew the only chance I had was a force at second. It’s the last out. Just go get it. If I boot it or make an error, they win the game.”
Instead, the game went to the 10th inning, and Seager and Valencia delivered back-to-back homers. When Diaz retired the Astros in order later in the inning, the Mariners had their victory.
“Really good,” Cruz summed up. “From hitting to defense and pitching. That’s as good as it gets.”
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