SEATTLE (AP) — Brandon Maurer's first time back on the mound as a starter since May didn't go the way he wanted. At least it was better than the last time he faced the Houston Astros.
The Seattle Mariners right-hander allowed five runs — all scoring with two outs — and seven hits in three innings as the Astros completed a three-game sweep with a 6-1 victory Wednesday night.
It was the first major league start for Maurer (4-8) since May 28. The rookie right-hander started the season in the Mariners' rotation but was sent down to Triple-A on May 29 and worked out of the bullpen since being called back up in late July. He was pressed into duty to replace ace Felix Hernandez, who was originally scheduled for the start but was scratched Monday with a minor oblique strain.
"It's a little different," Maurer said of returning to the starting role. "I went out there in the first inning, and it's like, 'All right.' Then I got to go right back out and it's, 'Here we go.'"
As bad as the line was Wednesday, it represented an improvement over Maurer's last start against the Astros on April 9, when he gave up six hits and seven hits and didn't get out of the first inning.
"It's something he's dealt with before," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "When he gets into trouble he is not able to control the damage and he can't stop it. It dominos on him."
Maurer struck out the first two batters in a perfect first inning. In the second, the Astros took a 2-0 lead on a run-scoring double by Marc Krauss and Carlos Corporan's RBI single.
Houston added three more in the third. Jonathan Villar led off with a single, and with two outs Brett Wallace drove him in with a single, Matt Dominguez had a ground-rule double and Chris Carter's single scored two runs.
"I tried to do the same thing tonight as I did in the pen," Maurer said. "It worked all right there in the first inning, but then I couldn't find the zone in the next few."
Kendrys Morales hit the 100th home run of his career for Seattle, which has lost four straight at home and starts a 10-game trip on Friday.
"When things don't go well at home, you go, 'We are going on the road, that should be better,'" Raul Ibanez said. "You keep the positive outlook, and when things go bad on the road, you go, 'Hey, we're going home, so things should be better.'"
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