SEATTLE – James Paxton delivered six strong innings, Nelson Cruz took Dallas Keuchel deep and the Seattle Mariners beat the Houston Astros 2-1 on Monday night to end a six-game skid against the defending World Series champions.
Paxton (1-1) allowed a leadoff homer to George Springer in the first inning but was solid after that, striking out seven over six innings.
Dee Gordon's RBI double off Keuchel (0-3) made it 2-1 in the sixth, putting Paxton in line for the win.
Nick Vincent and Juan Nicasio got the ball to closer Edwin Diaz, and he pitched a scoreless ninth for his AL-leading seventh save.
Nelson Cruz hit his third home run in five games with his tying solo blast off Keuchel with two outs in the fourth.
Springer, the only Astros regular to hit a home run off Paxton in his career, led off the game with a solo shot to left field estimated at 455 feet. It was his 19th career home run off Seattle pitching.
After that, Paxton gave up just two more hits and walked three.
Catcher David Freitas led off the sixth for Seattle with a double. Gordon followed with a soft line drive to right that Springer was slow to after losing his footing and slipping on the grass.
Houston has now scored one or fewer run in back-to-back losses. That never happened in the Astros' run to the World Series title last season.
Astros: LHP Tony Sipp (calf) threw a bullpen session Monday, but the team isn't sure if he will go out on a rehab assignment or be activated to the big club when eligible Wednesday.
Mariners: C Mike Zunino (left oblique) began his three-day rehab stint in Class A Modesto on Monday. He is expected to play two games at catcher before being activated. ... OF Ben Gamel (right oblique) will play at least one more minor league game Tuesday with Triple-A Tacoma. ... RHP Erasmo Ramirez (strained lat) is also scheduled to make a rehab start Tuesday in Tacoma. ... RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (shoulder), who signed a minor-league deal with Seattle last November, will likely throw one more bullpen session Tuesday before being sent off on a minor league assignment.
Astros: RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1, 7.71 ERA) is coming off one of his worst career starts in Minnesota on Wednesday (career-worst eight earned runs in three-plus innings), but is 5-2 with a 2.96 ERA lifetime against Seattle.
Mariners: The Mariners will likely tab LHP Ariel Miranda to make his season debut against the Astros. This will be his seventh career start against Houston, and he is 1-2 with a 4.30 ERA against the World Series champions.