The Astros’ Martin Maldonado (15) celebrates as he crosses home plate in front of Mariners catcher catcher Luis Torrens after his three-run home run during the sixth inning of a game Sept. 22, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The Astros’ Martin Maldonado (15) celebrates as he crosses home plate in front of Mariners catcher catcher Luis Torrens after his three-run home run during the sixth inning of a game Sept. 22, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Mariners’ playoff hopes take hit in loss to Astros

Seattle falls 6-1 and is now only one loss from playoff eliminaton with five games to play.

Associated Press

SEATTLE — Martin Maldonado hit a three-run home run, Framber Valdez struck out eight to set career highs for wins and strikeouts, and the Houston Astros beat the Seattle Mariners 6-1 on Tuesday night to close on their fourth straight playoff berth.

Houston cut its magic number to one over the Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels for clinching second in the AL West. The defending AL champions have five games left.

Houston has won three of four, scoring more than four runs for just the second time in its last 12 games.

Maldonado’s sixth homer, off reliever Brandon Brennan, highlighted a five-run sixth inning that included Michael Brantley’s tiebreaking, leadoff home run against Casey Sadler (1-2). Sadler threw a pair of wild pitches, including one that scored a run.

Valdez (5-3), a 26-year-old left-hander in his third big league season, allowed one run and five hits in seven innings, and he has 76 strikeouts in 70.2 innings this season. He gave up a leadoff single to J.P. Crawford and an RBI double to Kyle Seager in the first, then settled and scattered three hits over his final six innings.

Kyle Tucker went 4 for 5 for the Astros with a run and an RBI. He has hit safely in eight straight games.

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