SEATTLE — No sweep.
Hisashi Iwakuma couldn’t handle Jose Altuve. Mayckol Guaipe struggled much like he did in previous big-league opportunities. And Nelson Cruz struck out four times and dropped a fly ball in right field.
So the Mariners settled Wednesday for two out of three in their series against Houston when the Astros salvaged the final game of the series with a 7-4 victory at Safeco Field.
Altuve tormented Iwakuma (0-3) with a leadoff homer to start the game, an RBI double in a two-run third inning and another double in a two-run fifth inning.
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"The biggest key with him," Iwakuma said, "is you’ve got to get ahead. And today, I wasn’t able to get strike one. When you fall behind, he becomes a way better hitter because you have to throw a strike."
The Mariners trailed 5-3 when Guaipe made his first appearance since his recall Monday from Triple-A Tacoma to replace injured Joaquin Benoit.
"He was throwing the ball well in Tacoma," manager Scot Servais said. "He got the leadoff hitter, Altuve, out, and then he lost command. The ball was up a little bit."
Guaipe gave up two runs in two-thirds of an inning and owns a 5.60 ERA in 22 career appearances. His outing wasn’t helped when Cruz dropped a fly ball for an error.
"It wasn’t my best day," Cruz said, "but we had a chance in the eighth and the ninth. We got runners on. It just didn’t go the way we wanted."
The Mariners (11-10) had won the first two games in the series; they have won two out of three in each of their last four series. They now have an open date before opening a three-game weekend set against Kansas City.
Houston starter Collin McHugh (2-3) entered the game with a 7.56 ERA and lasted just five innings but handed a 5-2 lead to lefty Tony Sipp to start the sixth.
Adam Lind’s first homer as a Mariner was a 435-foot bomb to right that clipped one run off the deficit with two outs in the sixth. That’s when Guaipe entered the game…and the Astros added those two insurance runs.
Iwakuma wasn’t sharp in throwing 93 pitches and giving up five runs in five innings. That broke a streak, started by Iwakuma, of five straight games of seven or more innings by the club’s rotation.
Houston jumped to a 1-0 lead when Altuve tomahawked Iwakuma’s third pitch for a homer to left. It was Altuve’s third leadoff homer of the season, and the seventh of his career.
The Mariners got even on Robinson Cano’s two-out homer later in the inning. It was his eighth of the year.
Iwakuma retired seven in a row after Altuve’s homer before yielding a one-out double in the third to Jason Castro. That turned the lineup over to Altuve, who doubled past third. Houston led 2-1.
Singles by George Springer and Carlos Correa made it four straight hits and added another run before Iwakuma ended the inning.
The Mariners got one run back in their third and, again, Cano drove it in. He flicked a single into center after Seth Smith’s two-out double.
Castro started the Houston fifth with a walk and went to third when Altuve followed with another double to left. A one-out walk to Correa loaded the bases.
Colby Rasmus lined a single into center, and Evan Gattis followed with a sacrifice fly for a 5-2 lead.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Third baseman Kyle Seager made a diving stop to his left at the edge of the infield grass to stop Luis Valbuena’s one-out grounder in the sixth inning.
Seager got to his feet and threw to first for the out.
PLUS: Adam Lind got his first homer of the season. It came in his 59th plate appearance. He also had a single in four at-bats…reliever Vidal Nuno struck out three straight batters after replacing Mayckol Guaipe in the seventh inning…shortstop Ketel Marte had three hits and is batting .433 (13-for-30) in his last seven games…reliever Nick Vincent had a one-two-three ninth inning with two strikeouts.
MINUS: Backup catcher Steve Clevenger drew a start and went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He is batting .150…center fielder Leonys Martin was 0-for-3 with a walk, which dropped his average to .200.
STAT PACK: Robinson Cano’s 24 RBIs are a career high for April. His eight homers match a career high.
QUOTABLE: "We lost tonight," second baseman Robinson Cano said, "but we won the series. That’s all that matters."
SHORT HOPS: Houston center fielder Carlos Gomez left the game after bing hit in the right hand by an Hisashi Iwakuma pitch in the fourth inning. X-rays revealed no break; just a bruise…a crew-chief review on a deep drive by Seth Smith in the Mariners’ fifth inning confirmed the ball was just foul of the right-field pole. Smith then grounded out.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners