Mariners starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi (right) stands on the back of the mound after giving up a home run to the Astros’ Alex Bregman (left) during the sixth inning of a game Sept. 7, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Mariners starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi (right) stands on the back of the mound after giving up a home run to the Astros’ Alex Bregman (left) during the sixth inning of a game Sept. 7, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Mariners put up fight before losing to Astros

Seattle falls to 1-15 against Houston after 2-1 loss.

By Ryan Divish / The Seattle Times

HOUSTON — The Seattle Mariners didn’t win against the Astros on Saturday, which isn’t surprising since they’ve only done it once in 16 games this season and have lost their past 10 games vs. Houston. They were competitive, however, in a 2-1 defeat and avoided being a dubious part of baseball history on multiple levels.

They didn’t allow Justin Verlander to match the defining moment of Johnny Vander Meer’s baseball career of throwing no-hitters in back-to-back starts. And they also weren’t the first team to be no-hit three times in a season.

After no-hitting the Blue Jays in Toronto, Verlander was trying to match Vander Meer’s feat, which occurred in 1938. But instead he settled for his 18th win of the season, pitching seven innings and allowing one run on four hits with a walk and seven strikeouts.

Given that the Mariners have been no-hit twice this season, it wasn’t an impossible to believe that Verlander could make a run at what seems like an impossible feat.

After two dominant innings in which Verlander struck out three of the six batters he faced, the possibility seemed a little more real. But Shed Long put a stop to such thinking, leading off the third inning with a single through the right side.

The Mariners not only avoided being no-hit, but they avoided being shutout moments later when Dee Gordon tripled into the right-field corner to score Long from first base.

Seattle got a solid, if not lengthy start from rookie left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, who worked five innings, allowing one run on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts.

Kikuchi carried the 1-0 lead into the sixth inning, but didn’t record another out.

Alex Bregman clubbed his 34th homer of the year to lead off the inning. Kikuchi then allowed a single to Yordan Alvarez, which ended his night. Mariners manager Scott Servais went to right-hander Austin Adams to face a run of right-handed hitters in the Astros order.

Adams walked the first batter he faced, which is less than ideal. But he came back to get Robinson Chirinos to hit into a 4-6-3 double play and struck out Abraham Toro looking to leave the go-ahead run on third base.

Adams couldn’t match that scoreless inning in the seventh. Pinch-hitter Kyle Tucker hit a fly ball to the edge of the wall of the Crawford Boxes in left field. A fan reached over and caught the ball. It was ruled as fan interference on the field, giving Tucker a double, and after an inordinately long replay review, the call was confirmed.

A wild pitch from Adams allowed Tucker to hustle to third. That extra 90 feet set up Josh Reddick’s sacrifice fly to center that scored Tucker for the winning run.

Seattle threatened to tie the score in the eighth with Verlander finally out of the game, being replaced by right-hander Josh James. Tim Lopes smoked a one-out double off the fence in deep right-center. He moved to third on a throwing error on Gordon’s infield single. But James came back to strike out Dylan Moore and Mallex Smith to end the inning.

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