Chris Carter drove in the go-ahead run with Houston's third solo homer, rookie Lance McCullers pitched effectively into the seventh inning and the Astros enhanced their position in a crowded AL playoff race with their 3-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.
Houston moved with 1 1/2 games of first-place Texas in the AL West and maintained its slim lead in the chase for the second wild card. The Rangers lost 7-4 at home to the Detroit Tigers.
Carter snapped 2-all tie in the seventh with his 23rd home run, a two-out shot to left off Danny Farquhar (1-6).
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McCullers (6-7) allowed two runs and four hits in six-plus innings. He struck out seven and walked two, including a free pass to start the seventh.
Tony Sipp relieved and picked off pinch-runner James Jones, then retired five consecutive batters.
Oliver Perez struck out Kyle Seager to open the ninth. Luke Gregerson fanned Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano for his 30th save.
The Astros remained a half-game ahead of the Angels in the wild-card standings. Los Angeles beat Oakland 5-4.
Minnesota stayed 1 1/2 games behind Houston following a 4-2 win at Cleveland.
The Astros have five games remaining, while Texas, Minnesota and Los Angeles each have six. The Rangers and Angels close with a four-game series against each other in Texas.
Houston took a 2-0 lead in the first on a pair of solo homers off Roenis Elias, who allowed just one other hit over six innings.
With one out, George Springer lined a 2-1 pitch over the center-field wall for his 15th home run. Evan Gattis also jumped on a 2-1 pitch for his 27th homer, a two-out drive to left.
Seattle answered with a run in the bottom half on a walk to Kyle Seager and consecutive two-out singles by Cano and Mark Trumbo.
Ketel Marte tied it for the Mariners at 2 in the sixth with a leadoff home run, his second.
Astros: OF Carlos Gomez, who pinch ran on Sunday after missing 13 games with a left intercostal strain, took batting practice but was not in the starting lineup. "Looking better and better, but still not quite himself," manager A.J. Hinch said. Gomez entered as a defensive replacement in the seventh and laid down a sacrifice bunt in the ninth.
Mariners: LHP James Paxton, who left his last start in the second inning with a torn fingernail, might not pitch again this season. "I would give that 50-50 chance," manager Lloyd McClendon said. ... OF Stefen Romero, who sustained a severe shoulder bruise when he crashed into the wall last week, also might not play again this season, McClendon said.
Astros: RHP Mike Fiers (7-10, 3.66 ERA) is 2-1 with a 3.18 ERA in nine games (eight starts) since being acquired from Milwaukee on July 31. In his career, he is 3-8 in 17 games (15 starts) in September and October. Fiers has never faced the Mariners.
Mariners: LHP Vidal Nuno (1-5, 3.69) makes another spot start, this time on short rest with Paxton out. Nuno, acquired in early June from Arizona, is 1-4 with a 4.10 ERA in 30 games with Seattle, including eight starts. In his last start on Friday, he gave up five runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings.