Mariners use Chaos Ball in 8th, get 2nd straight win over Astros

Ryne Stanek didn't have to look at his former teammates in the dugout at third base, as Luke Raley let the ball off the bat of John Singleton sail into left field and end up in his glove for the final out.

For Stanek, there was never a moment of “Do you remember me?”

The previous three seasons he had worn a Houston Astros uniform and disliked the Mariners. Now, on the other end of the rivalry, it was all about winning.

Instead, he celebrated with an impressive and scoreless ninth inning in a 4-2 win over the Astros at T-Mobile Park. He shook hands with his teammates and participated in the Mariners' postgame victory dance while the Astros headed to their clubhouse.

“That's the weirdness of it,” he said. “When they used to do that, I used to think, 'Oh, that's funny.' And now, it's just, 'Oh, that's what we do when we win.'”

Seattle has played quite well over the last three days, winning the first two games of a four-game series against Houston and extending their winning streak to three games.

“Mariners baseball, isn't it?” manager Scott Servais said. “Great pitching, some great at-bats at the end of the game, great bullpen night again and you look up and we win. Really happy with how great our guys played that game.”

The Mariners used a bit of the old “Chaos Ball” magic to take the lead against the Astros in the eighth inning. Trailing 2-1, Mitch Haniger led off with a double against Astros' one-time closer Ryan Pressly and was quickly replaced by pinch-runner Jonathan Klasse.

After failing to get sac bunts on his first two pitches, rookie Ryan Bliss, playing in just his second MLB game, managed to draw a walk, refusing to chase anything out of the zone. During the battle with Bliss, Pressly uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Class to advance to third base.

“Unbelievable at-bat,” Josh Rojas said. “One of the best at-bats of the night, especially as a young player. It’s tough for any batter to go 0-2, even tougher for a rookie, and it was two sac bunts. I’ve done that before. You get the bunt sign and you’re down 0-2, and now you think, ‘Man, I really have to get this guy out because I didn’t do my job right.'”

With one out and runners on the corners, Rojas ripped a cutter for a ground ball down the first-base line. Astros first baseman José Abreu made a diving attempt, but the ball hit his glove and bounced into the outfield. Rojas ran to second for an RBI double that tied the game.

“I was just trying to get his spin in the right place,” Rojas said. “He threw a cutter in a good spot and not exactly where I wanted to hit it. I was trying to keep it in the air so the spin was coming towards me and I could put it in the right spot. He put it well down and in, luckily Abreu caught it.”

Julio Rodriguez gave the lead with a two-run single in unexpected fashion. After immediately trailing 0-2, Rodriguez topped the third on a 1-2 slider to a soft ground ball that Bliss hit on contact. Astros third baseman Alex Bregman fielded the ball and tried to throw it home, but he saw he had no play with Bliss' speed, preventing the go-ahead run from scoring.

Since Rodriguez was also running to first, Bregman quickly threw the ball. The ball went around and Abreu didn’t try so hard to catch it but rather tried to avoid hitting Rodriguez. This allowed Rojas to reach home with a safe run.

“What you do isn't always pretty,” Servais said. “But when you put the ball in play, something can happen. We had a little bit of speed on the bases, which always helps, it put a little more pressure on the defense and it paid off tonight.”

Seattle got a good start from Luis Castillo, who pitched six innings, giving up two runs on five hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Two runs came in the fourth inning. The Mariners couldn't turn a double play to eliminate the leadoff runner on a Jeremy Pena ground ball, Bregman hit a fly ball that crossed the fence in left field for a two-run homer. Left fielder Luke Raley, who had robbed a homer earlier, didn't get a chance to make a play on it.

Those were the only runs Castillo allowed the rest of the game. It was his ninth consecutive start in which he went more than five innings and allowed two or fewer runs. Only Randy Johnson (10 games) and Félix Hernández (17 games) had such a long start streak in team history.

“He gives us a chance,” Servais said. “He keeps us in the game, keeps working hard and as the game goes on, his play gets a little bit better.”

But it seemed like two runs given up might have been too many when the Mariners managed only one run against Astros starter Hunter Brown.

The right-hander worked six innings, allowing one run on four hits, one walk and nine strikeouts. Seattle's only run off the Browns came on Rodriguez's RBI single in the first inning.

“Hunter Brown has played as well as he has ever done,” Servais said. “He's had a little trouble this year after a rough start. But he's done well with all his pitches.”

Seattle got scoreless relief from Austin Voth and Taylor Saucedo in the seventh and eighth innings. With Andres Muñoz unavailable, Stanek was called up.

“It was cool,” Stanek said. “I think it's always weird facing a team you've been on before. There's always a little bit more pressure that maybe nobody else puts on you, but you put on yourself because you want to be like, 'Yeah, like I did this and against your old team.'”

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