Valbuena homers twice; Astros beat Mariners
Seattle, WA (SportsNetwork.com) - Luis Valbuena homered twice and drove in three runs, and his solo shot in the eighth inning lifted the Houston Astros over the Seattle Mariners 7-5 in a back-and-forth series opener on Monday.
Valbuena broke a 5-5 tie in the eighth inning with a leadoff blast off Danny Farquhar (0-1), and Jed Lowrie tacked on a insurance run with an RBI single later in the inning.
Luke Gregerson stranded a runner on second in the ninth to post his third save, and Houston ran its mark to 7-6 on the young season, the franchise's best start since 2007.
The Mariners' two-game winning streak came to an end despite Nelson Cruz adding two hits and two RBI to his already strong campaign.
Neither starter factored in the decision. Houston's Asher Wojciechowski, in his second career start, allowed four runs on eight hits over four-plus innings, while Hisashi Iwakuma gave up four runs in 5 1/3 frames.
"We got to figure out how to get him down in the zone, fastball command has not been good," M's manager Lloyd McClendon said of Iwakuma.
Valbuena slugged a no-doubter to right in the first inning and added a deep sacrifice fly to center field in the third.
Brad Miller had gotten the Mariners on the board with an RBI single in the second, and Cruz evened things in the third by beating out an infield single to plate Robinson Cano.
Colby Rasmus took Iwakuma deep to right-center for a solo homer in the fifth, and the Mariners answered with three runs in the bottom half. Cruz knocked in Cano again, and Kyle Seager singled him home and scored on a Mike Zunino sac fly.
The Astros tied it in the sixth after Lloyd McClendon pulled Iwakuma following a one-out double to George Springer. Iwakuma had only thrown 71 pitches and silenced the middle of Houston's lineup to that point.
McClendon opted to use Yoervis Medina, who promptly allowed two runs to score. The first came on an error down the third-base line by Seager, and the tying run on Lowrie's base hit to right.
Valbuena recorded the second multi-home run game of his career ... Will Harris extended his scoreless streak to 21 straight appearances. The Houston reliever pitched 1 2/3 frames, upping his streak to 23 1/2 innings ... Over his last nine games, Cruz has recorded eight home runs and 16 RBI.