Verlander Sharp In Astros Debut
Maybin Homers For 3-1 Triumph

Verlander: Steady in debut
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Houston's two newest players showcased their talents Tuesday night as the Astros won their sixth straight, a 3-1 victory over the Mariners in Seattle as the rejuvenated club maintained their three-game lead on the hard-charging Indians for the top spot in the American League.

As his supermodel fiance beamed from the stands, Justin Verlander tossed six innings of one-run ball, allowing six hits while striking out seven. Verlander's one mistake was a pitch that was left out over the plate in the fourth that Kyle Seager skied into the right field seats for a tying home run.

Houston scored first when Ariel Miranda walked the bases full in the third then Alex Bregman smacked a sacrifice fly that chased home Carlos Beltran.

The game stayed tied until the top of the seventh. Miranda left after six no-hit innings and James Pazos walked Brian McCann but, with Emilio Pagan on the mound, Cameron Maybin crushed a homer deep into the left field stands to give the Astros their 3-1 lead.

Verlander took a seat and Joe Musgrove worked two scoreless innings before Ken Giles notched his 29th save with a trio of strikeouts. While the Astros mustered just two hits the entire night, they had enough pitching to win and that's exactly what the acquisition of Verlander was meant to do - win games when the offense has a bad night which is something that may happen regularly in the postseason.

Wednesday will mark the return of Lance McCullers (7-3) who has spent two stints on the Disabled List this season. He will pitch against righthander Andrew Moore (1-3) in the 9:10 Central finale before the Astros get a day off.

With McCullers' return and the near-recuperation of Evan Gattis, the Astros will be at full strength for the first time all season. If they can recapture their early-season dominance, they have a chance to take the Astros further than they've ever gone.

- Bob Hulsey