The Seattle Mariners won't have Felix Hernandez to rely on when they close out a three-game set Wednesday versus the Houston Astros, so they'll hand rookie Brandon Maurer the ball at Safeco Field.
Hernandez is still bothered by a back/oblique issue and there is no definite timetable for the right-hander's return.
Seattle is counting on Maurer to salvage this set after dropping the first two installments and the righty is 4-7 with a 6.85 earned run average in 18 games (10 starts). Maurer has been reached for eight runs in his last three appearances and lost his first encounter with Houston back on April 9 in a 16-9 setback. He gave up six runs in just two-thirds innings of work.
"You love his arm, you love his stuff," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said after that April loss. "He had a great spring and he deserves to be up here."
Wedge's club has lost three straight and seven of 10 games, including Tuesday's 13-2 defeat in which starter Joe Saunders yielded six runs and seven hits in three innings.
"He's a great competitor but I haven't seen the command," Wedge said of his left-hander. "He still has the velocity on the fastball, you saw him get some good punchouts inside to right-handers today, which usually means if you're getting there, you're OK. He has made it difficult for himself just going deep in counts and working counts."
Franklin Gutierrez had two hits and two RBI in the loss. During the game, Seattle announced that the team traded shortstop Brendan Ryan to the New York Yankees in exchange for a player to be named later.
After the Mariners entertain the Astros, they will start a 10-game road trip Friday against St. Louis, Detroit and the LA Angels.
The Astros are targeting a rare sweep, their first since taking all four meetings with the Angels from May 31-June 3.
Houston broke out the bats in Tuesday's win, its fourth in seven tries, and L.J. Hoes, Jose Altuve and Brandon Laird each registered three RBI. Chris Carter went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Jonathan Villar hit a solo homer and scored three times for the Astros, who have taken two straight from Seattle to secure their first series victory since taking a three-game set against Toronto from Aug. 23-25.
"You start to swing the bat and you start to see your teammates getting hits. It's one of those things where it's almost like pass the baton and guys are really seeing the ball well," Astros manager Bo Porter said.
Astros starting pitcher Jordan Lyles held the Mariners to two runs -- one earned -- on four hits and two walks while striking out five over six innings to register the win.
The Astros, who will return to Minute Maid Park this weekend for a six-game stay versus the Angels and Cincinnati Reds, hope to record the sweep of Seattle with Brad Peacock on the mound Wednesday. Peacock has won three of his last four outings and gave up two runs over seven innings of a 3-2 win at Oakland on Thursday. He improved to 4-5 in 15 games (11 starts) to go along with a 5.62 ERA this season.
Peacock, a right-hander, has made three career starts against the Mariners and owns a 1-2 mark with a lofty 9.64 ERA. Seattle reached him for five runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings of a 7-1 loss on Aug. 30.
Seattle has won 10 of 18 matchups with Houston this season and had a six-game winning streak in this series stopped on Sept. 1 at Minute Maid Park.