Astros sink Mariners 8-6
Keuchel, Beltran shine in win

Keuchel gets 13th win
(c) Houston Chronicle

Six strong innings from Dallas Keuchel and a 4-run second against Erasmo Ramirez helped the Astros outlast Seattle for an 8-6 win Saturday afternoon. Houston sent nine batters to the plate against Ramirez in the second. Derek Fisher and Josh Reddick delivered run-scoring doubles with two outs, giving Keuchel a comfortable early lead to work with.

Dallas looked to have regained the form that made him A.L. Pitcher of the Month in April, keeping Seattle hitters off-balance and posting zeroes on the MMP scoreboard until Jean Segura hit a solo home run into the Crawford Boxes to start the sixth. After a single off the bat of Mitch Haniger, Keuchel bounced back to record three straight strikeouts through the heart of Seattle's batting order to end the threat.

Keuchel left the game with a 6-1 lead after six and Luke Gregerson kept it that way with a perfect seventh that featured a Keuchel-like three straight groundouts. Francis Martes came out to pitch the eighth, with a 7-1 lead, and that's when things got a little dicey for Astros fans.

Five straight batters reached base against Martes and the 6-run lead had been cut in half. Tony Sipp came in to face Kyle Seager and a run-scoring single trimmed the lead to 7-5.

Enter Joe Musgrove.

On super-hero day at the ballpark, Musgrove did his best Superman impersonation, striking out the first two batters he faced and getting Carlos Ruiz on a weak popup to turn the M's away with no further damage.

After a Josh Reddick single scored Fisher with run number eight in the bottom of the inning, Musgrove pitched around a Haniger homer to earn his first save of the year, capping off the Astros' 90th win by striking out arch-nemesis Robinson Cano.

The win cut the Astros magic number to clinch the division title to one, meaning the next Astros win or Angels loss will launch a celebration for the Astros and their fans. That celebration could come as early as tonight when the Angels host the Rangers in Anaheim.

Carlos Beltran had a big day at the plate, collecting three hits and two runs batted in. Reddick and George Springer chipped in with two hits and two RBIs apiece. Jose Altuve had two hits and two runs scored as the Astros put eight runs on the board without hitting a home run.

The season series between these two A.L. West rivals comes to a close Sunday afternoon at 1:10 when Justin Verlander makes his first start at Minute Maid Park since being acquired from Detroit at the end of last month. Rookie right-hander Andrew Moore gets the start for Seattle.

- Greg Thurston