Mariners host Astros in pivotal three-game series

National Sports

The good news for the Seattle Mariners is that Salvador Perez has left town.

The bad news is their nemesis, the American League West-leading Houston Astros, arrive Monday to open a three-game series.

The Mariners limited Perez, Kansas City’s All-Star catcher, to a solo homer Sunday to salvage the finale of a four-game series with a 4-3 victory. Perez hit home runs in all four games, including grand slams in the first two.

The Mariners’ Kyle Seager hit a decisive two-run shot in the seventh inning. It was his 31st homer of the season, eclipsing his previous high of 30 set in 2016.

“It’s definitely special,” Seager said. “It’s always nice to have a career high in anything. That’s always a positive. That’s been part of my job. That’s something I’ve kind of prided myself on is playing defense and trying to do the damage-type stuff — knocking in runs and doubles and home runs.”

Jarred Kelenic also homered and left-hander Marco Gonzales pitched seven strong innings to earn his fifth straight victory as the Mariners pulled within 4 1/2 games of Boston for the AL’s second and final wild-card berth.

“Kyle has been huge,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “Certainly, after the All-Star break, he has found the home run swing and we’ve needed him. We’ve seen him hit for higher batting average, but it’s (the) impact of what he’s done for us offensively and being able to write him in the lineup every day. There’s been days where he does not feel anywhere near 100 percent, but he grinds through it. We’re going to lean on him here down the stretch for sure.”

The Astros had a four-game winning streak snapped with a 13-2 road loss to Texas on Sunday.

One of the lone highlights for Houston was Yordan Alvarez’s career-high 28th homer of the season, a solo shot leading off the fifth inning. Alvarez leads the team in homers and RBIs (88).

“He has a tremendous ceiling,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “When he cuts his strikeouts down, he’ll even reach a higher ceiling. When he’s going good, he swings a very good bat. He’s not missing pitches, and he’s hitting the ball hard. Even his outs are (hit) hard. This time of year, when the pitchers are a little down, is when the strong guys take over. The strong guys are tired, but not as tired as the weaker guys. He should have a dynamite finish and a great last four or five weeks.”

The Astros are 8-5 against the Mariners this season, including 12-3 and 15-1 victories a little more than a week ago in Houston.

The Astros are scheduled to send right-hander Luis Garcia (10-6, 3.21 ERA) to the mound Monday in the series opener against Mariners right-hander Chris Flexen (11-5, 3.54).

Garcia is 0-1 with a 5.59 ERA in two career starts against the Mariners, both coming this season.

Flexen is 0-3 with a 9.64 ERA in three starts against the Astros, including 0-2 this year.

–Field Level Media

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