HOUSTON -- For five innings it was a baseball game. For five innings it was an interminably slow baseball game that was destined to be bogged down in situational pitching changes and other delays.
But then the sixth inning happened.
And it was no longer a game, but yet another blowout victory for the Mariners. Seattle scored seven runs on seven hits in the sixth inning, turning the game into a 13-2 trouncing.
With the victory, the Mariners improved to 46-38. They've won nine of their past 11 games. Yes, the Seattle Mariners. Yes, the team that was last in almost every offensive category in the American League just a few weeks ago.
But the offense is slowly climbing to credibility. And performances like the past two games in Houston will only help. The 13 runs and 18 hits were both season highs. And over the past two games, Seattle hitters have battered the mediocre pitching of the Astros, scoring 23 runs and banging out 29 hits.
A night after hitting four homers in a 10-4 victory, the Mariners totaled eight extra-base hits, including five doubles in the sixth inning alone.
Robinson Cano sparked the deluge with a two-out, two-run double off Jarred Cosart, knocking him out of the game. With his first-inning run-scoring single, Cano is 6 for 14 with two homers, a double and eight RBI in his past three games.
Astros manager Bo Porter turned to lefty reliever Darin Downs to try to keep the Mariners' lead at a respectable 5-1.
He failed, miserably.
--Kyle Seager doubled to right to score Cano.
--Logan Morrison doubled to right center to score Seager.
--Mike Zunino doubled down the left-field line to score Morrison.
--Michael Saunders singled to center to score Zunino.
--Dustin Ackley doubled off the top of the wall in left -- missing a homer by inches -- to score Saunders.
According to Stats Inc., the Mariners had never before had six or more consecutive run-scoring hits with two outs in any game. The barrage of run-scoring hits had the bulk of the 17,504 spectators in attendance heading for the exits before the inning came to an end.
Downs finally stopped the hemorrhaging by getting Brad Miller to fly out to the warning track in deep right center for an out. How bad was it for Downs? He entered the inning with a 2.12 ERA and exited with a 4.12 ERA.
The five doubles in one inning tied a Mariners record. The Mariners hit five doubles in the seventh inning against the Orioles on July 29, 1991.
All that run support wasn't needed, but helpful for starter Hisashi Iwakuma, who worked a scoreless sixth inning to end his night.
Iwakuma still didn't look as dominant as he was a month ago. Lingering neck issues have clearly affected his weekly preparation and his overall command, but he was still solid. He worked through the six innings, giving up one run on seven hits with seven strikeouts and no walks.
Up 10-1 after six innings, the Mariners weren't satisfied. James Jones, who singled twice early in the game and then had his streak of six consecutive hits stopped by a fly ball in the fourth, tripled to left-center to score Endy Chavez. Pinch-hitter Willie Bloomquist scored Jones with a ground ball to second to make it 12-1.
Reliever Dominic Leone gave a run back in the seventh, but worked out of a bases-loaded jam to keep it at 12-2.
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