Martin Maldonado and Michael Brantley hit home runs and Framber Valdez pitched seven strong innings as the Houston Astros beat the host Seattle Mariners 6-1 Tuesday to inch closer to a playoff berth.
The Astros (28-27), who have five games left, hold a 3 1/2-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels (25-31) and a four-game lead over the Mariners (24-31) in the chase for second place in the American League West and an automatic postseason bid.
Houston owns the tiebreaker with Seattle because it already has won the season series between the teams, but the Angels hold the tiebreaker over the Astros.
Valdez (5-3) allowed one run on five hits with no walks and eight strikeouts.
Mariners reliever Casey Sadler (1-2) took the loss after giving up four runs in 1 1/3 innings.
The Astros broke a 1-1 tie with a five-run sixth inning.
Brantley led off by hitting a 1-0 pitch over the wall in right-center field. An out later, Kyle Tucker got one of his four hits, a single to right, and he stole second. Yuli Gurriel walked, and both runners advanced on a wild pitch by Sadler.
With two outs, another wild pitch scored Tucker and sent Gurriel to third. After a walk to Josh Reddick, Brandon Brennan replaced Sadler. Maldonado greeted Brennan by hitting a three-run shot to left-center on a 2-0 sinker.
Both teams scored in the first inning.
George Springer led off the game with a single but was wiped out when Brantley grounded into a force play for the second out. Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker followed with singles, the latter scoring Brantley.
J.P. Crawford led off the bottom of the inning with a single and moved to second on a groundout. With two outs, Kyle Seager doubled to right field to tie the score at 1-1.
Crawford and Seager each had two of Seattle's six hits.
Mariners rookie starter Ljay Newsome went 4 1/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits. He didn't walk a batter, and he struck out one.
--Field Level Media