Mariners-Astros preview

HOUSTON -- Their winning streak at Minute Maid Park stalled by two left-handed starters, the Houston Astros will encounter a third in succession when the Seattle Mariners visit Monday to open a key three-game series.

The Astros (43-39) dropped consecutive home games for the first time since late May when White Sox lefties Chris Sale and Jose Quintana posted back-to-back wins on Saturday and Sunday. Houston fell to 9-15 against left-handed starters this season, with Mariners southpaw Wade Miley (6-4, 5.58 ERA) scheduled to start against the Astros next.

Houston had won five consecutive series before dropping the rubber match on Sunday and had claimed 13 of 15 games at home before being bested by Sale in the middle game of the three-game set with Chicago.

"We've got to continue to play our game," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "That's five series before that we won. We lost this series; it's unfortunate. We were in position to win yesterday's game; we were close today until they pulled away. So you've got to give credit to what they did.

"So for us we get a new series, a division opponent that we haven't seen in a few weeks, but they're right there with us. It'll be important for us to create those innings that we've done so well the last two months. Good opponent coming to our stadium (Monday) for a three-game series. One we're really familiar with."

Astros right-hander Lance McCullers (3-2, 3.91) will make his first starts against the Mariners this season. He went 2-1 with a 2.93 ERA in three starts against Seattle as a rookie in 2015.

McCullers missed his previous turn in the rotation because of a blister on his right index finger, but Hinch acknowledged that the club took a measured, cautious approach with McCullers when they skipped him last week in Anaheim.

Miley is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in five career starts against the Astros. In a 6-3 Mariners win on May 5 at Minute Maid Park, he allowed two runs, five hits and two walks with five strikeouts in six quality innings. He will make his second start since his recall from the 15-day disabled list on June 29 with a sore left shoulder.

The Mariners (43-39) completed a four-game series sweep of the Orioles at home on Sunday with a 9-4 win. After losing six consecutive games between June 18-23 to drop behind the Astros in the American League West standings, Seattle has won seven of nine games to pull even with Houston for second place in the division, 8 1/2 games behind Texas.

"We didn't talk at all about wins and losses. It was just about how we were playing," Mariners manager Scott Servais said of a recent address to the team. "We weren't playing well and we needed to play better. Sometimes you think the wins and losses are in your control -- things happen in this game, you play so many games.

"But you can control how you play and how you prepare and that's what we wanted to see."

Seattle leads the season series 4-3, but the teams haven't played since May 8.