Houston's bats come alive

Astros overpower Mariners in opener to extend division lead

Jake Meyers drove in four runs including a three-run homer against the Mariners on Monday night. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

After a disappointing end to their recent road trip by getting handed a walk-off loss to the Padres to drop the series in San Diego, the Astros returned home with a big series against the second-place Mariners on deck. They took care of business in Monday's opener, getting plenty of offense to power past Seattle.

Final Score: Astros 11, Mariners 2

Astros' Record: 80-57, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (11-4)

Losing Pitcher: Yusei Kikuchi (7-8)

Houston knocks out Kikuchi early

After a scoreless first inning, the Astros took advantage of Yusei Kikuchi's inability to find the strike zone in the bottom of the second. They worked three straight walks to begin the inning with the bases load and no outs, setting up a two-run play where an error cost Seattle some outs and some runs, with two coming across on a groundball hit by Aledmys Diaz that could've been a double play.

Jake Meyers capitalized further in the next at-bat, drilling a 400-foot homer to extend the lead to 5-0. They weren't done there, as later in the inning, Yordan Alvarez made it 6-0 with an RBI double, ending Kikuchi's day at 1.2 innings.

Plenty of run support for McCullers Jr.

After that six-run second inning, Lance McCullers Jr. would have his worst inning of the night, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk, including a two-RBI double to Abraham Toro, which at the time made it a four-run game at 6-2. He rebounded nicely from the damage, though, retiring seven in a row to keep them to two runs through five frames. He returned for the sixth and erased a leadoff single and a walk to toss another scoreless inning. His final line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

Those six innings of work had him squarely in line for the win, as Houston would tack on two runs in the fifth on another RBI by Meyers and one scoring on an error. They didn't stop there, getting another multi-run inning in the bottom of the sixth by scoring three; two on a two-RBI double by Kyle Tucker and later an RBI single by Alex Bregman, pushing the lead to 11-2.

Astros take the opener in dominant fashion

Houston's first reliever was Brandon Bielak in the top of the seventh. He erased a leadoff walk, getting a strikeout and double play to face the minimum in the inning. He kept going in the top of the eighth and had an exact repeat of the inning prior, walking the first batter, getting a strikeout, then an inning-ending double play, this one started by Marwin Gonzalez, who entered defensively in the inning at third to rest Alex Bregman.

Bielak stayed on the mound in the top of the ninth, still with a nine-run lead, to try and complete the piggyback. He finished off the win for Houston, pushing the Mariners back to 5.5 games back, as are the A's, and gives the Astros the chance to get a series win on Tuesday.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game series will get started at 7:10 PM Central on Tuesday. Jake Odorizzi (6-7, 4.32 ERA) will try to move back to even on the year for Houston, while Logan Gilbert (5-5, 5.14 ERA) is expected to start for Seattle.

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