SEATTLE — The breakout Houston manager Bo Porter kept saying was coming finally showed up.
And it wasn’t just a little offensive outburst by the Astros.
Jose Altuve drove in four runs and hit one of Houston’s five homers, and the Astros broke out of their slump with a 16-9 win over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.
After totaling nine runs during a six-game losing streak, the Astros scored nine in just two innings and won for the first time since opening night. The smallest crowd in Safeco Field history saw the Astros batter Seattle rookie starter Brandon Maurer (0-2) and continued their offensive onslaught against reliever Kameron Loe. By the time Loe was replaced after the third inning, the Astros led 11-0 and had 13 hits.
“It was only a matter of time,” Porter said. “We’ve had confidence the whole time they could hit. It was unfortunate the games prior to tonight that we had not hit, but it was good to see.”
Chris Carter homered twice for his first multihomer game. J.D. Martinez and Marwin Gonzalez also homered for Houston. The Astros entered the night with just two homers and 17 total runs all season.
The 16 runs and 22 hits were the most since August 2010 when the Astros won at St. Louis 18-4. Houston scored six off Maurer in the first as the rookie lasted just two outs. The six-run first was the biggest inning for Houston since Sept. 10, 2011, against Washington.
“We showed today what the team really has,” Altuve said. “I guess the guys wake up today. I look at it that way.”
All of Houston’s starters had at least one hit except first baseman Brett Wallace who continued to struggle through a miserable start to the year, striking out four times and dropping his average to .048. Altuve and Carter had four hits, and Gonzalez was on base four times. Carter and Martinez both homered in the second and Gonzalez went deep in the third — all their first homers of the season. Altuve joined the trio with a two-run shot with two outs in the fourth off Seattle’s Charlie Furbush. Carter capped the night with a homer in the top of the ninth.
“They did a good job of managing their at-bats and keeping the line moving. Even earlier in the game before we got the home runs, it was singles, doubles, line drives,” Porter said. “It was what we talk about all the time.”
Paul Clemens (1-0) got the victory for Houston because starter Erik Bedard didn’t make it past the fourth. Bedard gave up just one hit, but was pulled after throwing just 66 pitches. Bedard started the season in the Astros’ bullpen after throwing just six innings during spring training. The lengthy breaks spent in the dugout, his limited time during spring and a pitch count all led to the decision to end his night early.
Bedard was on a 65-pitch limit and missed qualifying for the victory against his former team in a game the Astros led 13-0 at the time he was replaced.
“I’d rather be healthy the whole year than just one outing. So I threw 65 and that’s what it was,” Bedard said.
Clemens made his major league debut after being called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Monday. He worked four innings and gave up five runs and six hits. Jason Bay homered with two outs in the seventh off Clemens, and Raul Ibanez and Michael Morse went back-to-back in the eighth. It was Morse’s sixth homer of the season.
The Mariners will be left with decisions to make with Maurer and Loe. Maurer didn’t pitch above Double-A Jackson last year, but was so impressive in spring Seattle put him in the rotation. In his two starts, Maurer has allowed 12 earned runs and has a 16.20 ERA. Houston made him pay with three straight singles to start the game, followed by Carlos Pena’s two-run double, RBI singles by Martinez and Matt Dominguez, and Altuve’s two-run double — his second hit of the inning — that finally brought an end to Maurer’s short night.
Loe has given up six homers already in four relief appearances.
“These are the days you just forget. I mean you take whatever good you can out of it,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. “Some good things happened for us at the end of the game, but from a pitching perspective we just had a very off day. Everybody was scuffling.”
NOTES: Tuesday’s crowd was 10,745. The previous low was 11,352 last season. The park opened in July 1999. … Ibanez now has 67 career homers at Safeco, most of any player. … Justin Maxwell singled in the first for Houston and has a six-game hitting streak.