Altuve helps Astros beat Mariners, 5-2
SEATTLE (AP) -- Jose Altuve had two hits and an RBI and the Houston Astros damaged the Seattle Mariners post-season hopes with a 5-2 victory Wednesday.
Altuve had a RBI double in the fifth and a single in the seventh for his league-leading 200th hit. He is the second Astros player to accomplish the feat, joining Craig Biggio - who set the franchise record of 210 in 1998.
Altuve leads the league in hitting at .337, hits and steals with 52. If he finishes as the leader in all three categories he would be the first to do that since Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki in 2001.
The Mariners, who lost two of three in the series, remained a half-game behind Detroit for the American League's second wild-card spot. The Tigers lost to AL Central rival Kansas City, 3-0.
Oakland, which opens a three-game series at Safeco Field on Friday, holds a two-game advantage over the Mariners for the first wild-card spot.
Nick Tropeano (1-0), making his major league debut, held the Mariners in check for his five innings. He allowed two runs and four hits, striking out five and walking none, and left with a 4-2 lead.
Tony Sipp finished the ninth for his fourth save in five opportunities. Regular closer Chad Qualls has a nagging hip injury and was unavailable.
The Astros chased Hisashi Iwakuma (14-7) after just 4 1-3 innings, his third shortest outing of the season.
Iwakuma struggled with his control from the start. The best indicator was his one-out walk to Jon Singleton in the second inning. It was just his 15th walk issued in 161 2-3 innings this season.
Matt Dominguez then popped out before three straight hits, by Alex Presley, Max Stassi and Jonathan Villar, produced three runs.
In Iwakuma's 24 previous starts, opponents had scored a combined three runs in the second inning.
The Mariners responded in the bottom of the inning with two runs off Mike Zunino's one-out double.
Altuve, the league's leading hitter but hitless in 10 previous at-bats in the series, pushed it to 4-2 with his one-out RBI double to left in the fifth.
After Iwakuma's second walk - his 16th of the season - with one out in the fifth, he was lifted. He gave up four runs and six hits and struck out six.
The Astros added a run in the eighth on Presley's two-out RBI single. He and Stassi each had two RBIs.
The Mariners have their final off day of the season Thursday before their critical weekend series against Oakland. Lefty James Paxton (5-2, 1.87) opens the series Friday against right-hander Jason Hammel (2-5, 4.70). Houston also is off Thursday before its three-game weekend series at the Los Angeles Angels. Brett Oberholtzer (5-10, 4.38) will be matched up against C.J. Wilson (11-9, 4.64).
SELIG AND NO. 42
Commissioner Bud Selig, retiring after this season, came through Seattle and spoke with the media before the game. Among his topics was the genesis for all the players wearing No. 42 on April 15 each season to honor Jackie Robinson breaking the Color Line on that date in 1947.
"Commissioners are never supposed to have favorites," Selig began. "Let me tell you a story. I came back from a trip to Arizona and my phone was ringing. It was Ken Griffey Jr. And he apologized for calling me so late and he said, `I know how you feel about Jackie Robinson. What would be wrong with all of us wearing No. 42?' `'
Selig said he would think about it but didn't take long. The next morning he called Robinson's widow, Rachel, and told her Griffey's idea and she embraced it. So every year since 2004 every player wears No. 42 on April 15. The number also was retired throughout baseball in 1997.
CLOSER TO THE END
Even though Mariners closer Fernando Rodney has 44 saves in 47 opportunities and needs just two more to set the franchise record, he tends to be a final-inning roller coaster. Manager Lloyd McClendon says just enjoy the ride.
"I'm a believer that once you get to your closer in the ninth inning, you've done your job as a manager," McClendon said. "It's his game to win or lose. . If you asked if I'd take Fernando Rodney out of the game, it would have to be dire straits."