Astros to close series versus Mariners

Already seven games out of contention in the American League West, the Houston Astros try to keep up with their new set of league foes this afternoon as they finish up a three-game set versus the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park.

Houston, which has made the transition from the National League to the AL beginning this season, managed to snap a three-game slide on Tuesday with a 3-2 victory over the Mariners. Of the club's six wins on the campaign, three have come versus Seattle.

Marwin Gonzalez hit his third home run of the season for the hosts, a solo shot to lead off the third inning, and Jose Altuve scored what proved to be the game-winning run later in the frame.

Unfortunately, the inning was not all positive for the Astros as starting center fielder Justin Maxwell suffered a fractured left hand after being hit by a pitch thrown by Hisashi Iwakuma, sending him to the 15-day disabled list.

Starter Bud Norris picked up his third win of the season as he allowed just one run on eight hits and a couple of walks, striking out just two, over the course of five innings. Pitching a perfect ninth with a pair of strikeouts, Jose Veras picked up the save.

"I didn't have my best stuff today, but I battled and made it through five innings and kept it a one-run, two-run ball game," Norris said of his performance. "I have a comfort zone at home. Our job [as starters] is to pass it on to the bullpen. Getting the lead makes it easier on us."

Iwakuma was eventually saddled with his first loss of the season after permitting three runs -- two earned -- on six hits and three walks, although he did strike out 11 over five innings.

Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse and Justin Smoak all had two hits for the visitors, the former connecting on a solo home run as the team lost for the fourth time in the last five outings.

Making his first-ever appearance against the Mariners today is Lucas Harrell. The right-hander, originally drafted by the Chicago White Sox in 2004, is currently 1-2 on the season after winning his most recent outing on Friday versus Cleveland.

Against the Indians, Harrell lasted 5 2/3 innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits and five walks, while striking out four. Already Harrell has issued five bases-on-balls twice this season, which is why he has only two more strikeouts (15) than walks through four appearances.

Getting his second crack at the Astros is Seattle hurler Joe Saunders. In his first appearance of the campaign versus Houston, the left-hander gave up six hits and walked one, while striking out five over 6 1/3 innings, but he still kept the Astros scoreless in what became a 3-0 win back on April 8.

Saunders, who is 1-0 in three career outings versus Houston, was knocked around in his most recent start, permitting seven runs on nine hits and three walks through 4 2/3 innings at Texas on Friday.

Sitting six games out of first in the division, the Mariners aren't doing themselves any favors at the plate, hitting a league-low .226. However, even though Seattle has had issues with Houston during the first month of the season, the Astros are still the team that everyone wants to bat against, as the squad sports a league-high 5.31 ERA.