HOUSTON – Alex Bregman hit his 100th career homer, a three-run shot, and Jose Altuve added a solo drive to give the Houston Astros an 8-5 win over the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.
The Astros trailed by two in the third inning before Bregman´s first home run of the season put them ahead 4-3. Altuve, who had two RBIs, connected in the fifth for the first of three runs to pad the lead and help the Astros take three of four in the series from their AL West foes.
Josh James was not sharp in his return to the rotation after spending last season in the bullpen. He allowed three runs and needed 75 pitches to get through three innings. But then Brandon Bielak (1-0) ate up the next 3 1/3 innings to win his major league debut and save Houston’s bullpen.
“He shut them down and gave our offense time to come back,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He was throwing strikes. He had all his pitches working … he´s a very calm pitcher. He saved us big-time.”
Bielak permitted four hits and two runs – one earned – while striking out four.
Bielak said he cried when he got the news Monday morning that he was being called up. He admitted to having some jitters early but he managed to keep his nerves in check.
“I just stick to my work ethic,” he said. “I put all this work in to lead up to this moment and I just have to trust myself.”
Roberto Osuna worked a scoreless ninth for his first save.
Mariners starter Kendall Graveman (0-1) yielded six hits, seven runs and struck out seven in four-plus innings in his first game in 807 days after recovering from Tommy John surgery.
“Obviously, wanted the outcome to be better, but it´s good to be out there, arm felt good,” Graveman said. “Getting deep into ballgames is hard to replicate in the big leagues – just being out there and pitching.”
The Mariners were up by one with two outs in the third when Evan White knocked an off-speed pitch from James to left field for a two-run homer to extend the lead to 3-0.
Graveman looked sharp early and struck out the side in the first. He gave up a pair of singles in the second but got out of the jam with a double play.
Kyle Tucker reached on an error by third baseman Kyle Seager to start the Houston third before Graveman walked Dustin Garneau. The Astros cut the lead on Altuve’s RBI double with one out. Bregman then launched a ball off a sign in left field to put Houston on top 4-3.
The Astros made it 5-3 with two outs in the fourth when Garneau drove home a run with his first career triple on a soaring ball hit to left field.
Altuve opened the fifth with his first homer of the season before Graveman walked Bregman, ending his night.
Michael Brantley and Josh Reddick each hit an RBI double later in the inning to extend the lead to 8-3.
Mariners manager Scott Servais was encouraged by his team’s approach at the plate. Seattle went 4 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
“We had a lot of really, really good at-bats,” Servais said. “We scored five runs and left something like 10 guys on base, so we had a chance to get even more than that. That´s a positive – our young guys – our offense and lineup is starting to churn a little bit.”
Mariners: Relief pitcher Brandon Brennan was placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Sunday, with a strained left oblique. Left-hander Taylor Guilbeau was recalled to take his roster spot.
Astros: RHP Justin Verlander went on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Saturday, with a strained right forearm. The Astros announced that the 2019 AL Cy Young Award winner would not throw for at least two weeks and would be evaluated after that. … Houston optioned INF Taylor Jones, recalled right-hander Nivaldo Rodriguez and selected Bielak to the major league roster.
Mariners: Seattle left-hander Justus Sheffield opposes Patrick Sandoval when the Mariners open a three-game series against the Angels on Tuesday night. The 24-year-old Sheffield appeared in eight games with seven starts and had a 5.50 ERA last season.
Astros: Houston will face the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday for the first time since a Major League Baseball investigation determined the Astros stole signs illegally during their run to a championship in 2017, when they beat the Dodgers in the World Series. During spring training, several Dodgers had harsh things to say about the Astros. Houston´s Framber Valdez will oppose right-hander Walker Buehler in the opener of the two-game series.
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