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Robinson Canó homers late, lifts Mariners to 7-4 win over Astros

Robinson Canó's first home run since his return was the difference in the Mariners' win. (AP)

By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer

SEATTLE (AP) – Robinson Canó is searching for any way to help the Seattle Mariners stay in the playoff race and try to make up for the 80 games he was gone while being suspended.

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On Monday night, it was hitting a game-winning home run – his first long ball in more than three months.

“It was a good swing but to be in that situation to hit a homer to get the team ahead and win the game, it’s pretty special,” Canó said.

Canó hit a three-run shot in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift Seattle to a key 7-4 win over the Houston Astros, the Mariners fifth straight win over their division rival. Even before he stepped to the plate in the eighth, Canó was on his way to a big night with a pair of doubles – his first two extra-base hits since coming back from his suspension for violating baseball’s joint drug policy.

Those were precursors to his drive to left-center field off Houston’s Collin McHugh (5-2) with one out in the eighth. The pitch was a borderline strike, but Canó got enough to drive it out to the opposite field on a night the ball struggled to carry due to smoke from wildfires in Canada choking the Seattle area.

“From the first game of his year I was trying to use more of the field,” Canó said. “That was the kind of hitter I was when I first came up and I’ve always been a guy who used the whole field so if they pitch away I’m just going to go where they pitch.”

It was Canó’s fifth home run and his first since May 12 against Detroit. Seattle pulled within 3 1/2 games of Houston in the division race, while the Astros fell back into a tie with Oakland for the top spot in the AL West.

“It’s like making a huge trade at the deadline for a middle of the order bat,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. “It’s hard to navigate through him.”

Seattle finally came through with runners in scoring position after starting 1 for 12, the only hit being Mitch Haniger’s RBI single in the sixth inning that pulled the Mariners even at 4-4. Dee Gordon reached on an infield single with one out in the eighth – with manager Scott Servais ejected during the at-bat – and Haniger followed with a walk. Canó got a fastball on the outside part of the plate and drove it out.

Seattle’s pitching was also outstanding, retiring 21 of the final 22 Houston batters. Félix Hernández was solid in his return to the rotation after a brief demotion to the Seattle bullpen. Relievers Adam Warren and Alex Colomé (4-5) were perfect to the ninth where Edwin Díaz finished off his league-best 48th save, tying the franchise record.

The only batter to have success was Marwin Gonzalez, who homered in the first and added a two-run double in the third off Hernandez. Houston was limited to one hit after the third inning.

“They outhit us, and they put a lot of pressure on us from the very beginning of the game,” Hinch said.

FÈLIX’S START

Hernández allowed four runs and scattered five hits – three of those to Gonzalez – in six innings. Despite the four earned runs it was one of his better starts of the season.

“The last three innings the ball was coming out much better,” Hernandez said.

EJECTION

Servais was ejected in the eighth inning, protecting Gordon after he started arguing a strike call by home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski. Servais stepped between the two and was quickly tossed. It was his third ejection of the season.

MVP RETURNS

The Astros expect to activate 2B Jose Altuve off the 10-day disabled list before Tuesday’s game. Altuve has been out since July 26 with a sore knee. He played one game for Triple-A Fresno on Sunday and collected his first-ever Triple-A hit. Altuve made the jump directly from Double-A to joining the Astros.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: OF George Springer was scratched from the lineup due to a sore left quad. Manager A.J. Hinch said Springer reported the soreness after arriving at the ballpark. It’s not considered serious and Springer could have been used off the bench if needed. … C Brian McCann and RHP Chris Devenski will continue their rehab assignments with Double-A Corpus Christi later this week. Their chances of rejoining the Astros will be re-evaluated next week when the club comes off the road and returns to Houston.

Mariners: LHP James Paxton threw for the second straight day as he recovers from the forearm contusion suffered when he was hit by a line drive. Paxton threw at about 90-100 feet but still no set timetable on his potential return. … Relief pitcher Sam Tuivailala had surgery late last week to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered earlier this month. Recovery time is expected to be six to eight months, meaning Tuivailala will likely miss the start of the 2019 season.

UP NEXT

Astros: Hinch said the starter on Tuesday will be a right-hander from the bullpen but was unsure who it would be.

Mariners: Mike Leake (8-7) is coming off his best start of the season where he pitched eight scoreless innings and allowed two hits against Oakland. Leake has recorded a quality start in his past six outings.

Table Setter: Ben Gamel is back with M’s, but will it make an impact?

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