HOUSTON (AFP) – Justin Verlander threw a one-round shot in the eighth inning and won the 14th game leading the MLS, Aledmys Díaz scored two groundbreakers and Jordan Alvarez scored his 30th home career this season when the Houston Astros beat the Seattle Mariners 11-1 Friday night.
Verlander (14-3) allowed one run in 7 2/3 innings and allowed five hits by five and outpaced Seattle’s Robbie Ray, last year’s AL Cy Young winner.
Verlander kept Seattle scoreless until Jesse Winker and Julio Rodriguez doubled down in the seventh inning.
Verlander only allowed three winning runs in four starts and 26 2/3 runs in July. The 39-year-old right-hander, in his first season after returning from Tommy John’s surgery, has allowed one run or fewer in six straight times.
Also on Friday, the Mariners took the step of boosting their bet, acquiring the best player in the commercial market, and taking All Star Luis Castillo of the Cincinnati Reds against four odds in the minor league.
Cincinnati got forwards Noelfi Mart and Edwin Arroyo, right-handers Levi Studt and Andrew Moore. Mart was the Mariners’ highest-ranked, with Arroyo at number three and Studdt at number five.
Seattle has not participated in the playoffs since 2001, the longest post-season dry spell in the Big Four professional sports in North America.
Astros chased Ray (8-8) by scoring three games in the third. Ray gave up singles against Yuli Gouriel and Alvarez and a double from Alex Bergman that took Houston to a 4-0 lead.
Diaz sent Ray Stadium 401 feet on the left train tracks in the second half. Homer’s solo was added by Diaz in the eighth inning from catcher Luis Torrens.
Ray only worked 2 and 3 innings, and passed five hits and four runs on 84 throws. He’s been hit hard by Houston this season, giving up 14 innings in 10 and 2/3 runs in three starts.
Bregman added another RBI in the fourth inning on one of Ben Murphy to the left of center who scored Gurriel to put Houston ahead 5-0.
Homer Alvarez came into the deep right center field in the sixth game of an 85-mph fastball from Tommy Meloni. Astros quarterback Mauricio Dupont also scored in sixth, a shot near the offending left pole off Meloni that put Houston ahead 9-0.
Houston won five in a row against Seattle and leads the season 11-6 series. The Astros are 34-19 against AL West this season.
Seattle is 17-5 in the last 22 games, with all five losses against Houston. The Sailors have not lost to a team except the Astros since July 1.
Sailors: After RHB Diego Castillo was put on the casualty list for 15 days Thursday night with a right shoulder infection, the Mariners RHB called up Matt Brash of Triple A Tacoma. On Friday, the team called RHP Phillips Valdez to cancel waivers from Boston and his option to Tacoma.
Astros: RHP Lance McCullers Jr. continues. Progress in his rehabilitation from off-season forearm strain. He will begin his third rehab Tuesday night in Triple-A Sugar Land.
Mariners: Chris Flixen (7-8, 3.75) starts in Seattle on Saturday, hoping to end an impressive July of 1.61 ERAs in four games, all won by the Mariners.
Astros: Framber Valdez (9-4, 2.74) will start Saturday, six days after winning the Mariners three runs in 6 2/3 innings in an 8-5 win in Seattle on Sunday.
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