Astros stay in Wild Card mix with 6-run 6th

Astros stay in Wild Card mix with 6-run 6th

HOUSTON -- The Astros aren't ready to turn the page on 2016 just yet.

George Springer's two-run double with the bases loaded and Marwin Gonzalez's two-run single highlighted a six-run outburst in the sixth inning against Mariners ace Felix Hernandez that continued the Astros' postseason drive in an 8-4 win Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.

"We're not dead yet," Springer said. "This team isn't going to quit. We're going to go down fighting."

Springer's two-run double

The win moved the Astros to within 2 ½ games of the Orioles for the second American League Wild Card spot with four games remaining after Baltimore lost to Toronto. The Mariners remain two games back of Baltimore with five left, while Detroit moved a game up on Seattle by beating Cleveland.

"I know the results at the end of the games have not been particularly wonderful for us in his homestand, but the effort's been impeccable," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "These guys continue to fight, we continue to bounce back. We've had somewhere between 10 and 20 lives this year. Just when you count us out or think we're in a bad spot, we seem to fight back a little bit. It's a characteristic I love about our team."

Astros on big comeback win

Four of the runs Hernandez (11-7) allowed in the sixth were unearned, the result of two Seattle errors. Astros rookie Alex Bregman, who'd been out two weeks with a hamstring strain, came off the bench for a game-tying, pinch-hit single during the inning.

The Mariners would have escaped the frame with a 4-4 tie, but a close play at first following a bobble by first baseman Adam Lind was upheld by a replay review and opened the door for the four unearned runs off Hernandez.

Marisnick safe on an error

"The sixth inning got us," said Mariners manager Scott Servais. "We didn't finish off the inning. We didn't make a few plays that probably should have been made. And we didn't get any help from the replay official. He was clearly out, when I looked at the replay. I'm not quite sure what they were looking at in New York, but we had some miscues before that and just didn't overcome it."

RBI hits by Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa in the first put the Astros ahead, 2-1, but the Mariners scored four runs in five innings against Houston starter Mike Fiers to take a 4-2 lead into the sixth inning. Jandel Gustave picked up his first Major League win in relief.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Autumn of George: Springer came into Tuesday's game on a 14-for-31 tear in his previous seven games, but he only had two RBIs in that span. He matched that total with his bases-loaded, ground-rule double in the sixth inning, breaking the game open and giving Springer four consecutive multihit games during which he's batting .706 (12-for-17). More >

"Obviously, that's a big spot for us," Springer said. "You've got to give Jake [Marisnick] all the credit in the world for getting to first and [Tony] Kemp for his at-bat and [Yulieski] Gurriel for getting it down the line. I was just trying to help the team and pass on the baton to the next guy."

A King's best friend (or enemy): Hernandez has struggled in the past against the Astros and he appeared in trouble early when Houston scored twice in the first and had two on before he induced a 6-4-3 double play grounder by Yulieski Gurriel. And when Houston threatened again with two on and one out in the third, he got another 6-4-3 to preserve a 4-2 lead. But it was the double play Hernandez didn't get -- when shortstop Ketel Marte threw away the relay on what would have ended the sixth -- that opened the door to Houston's six-run rally in that frame. More >

"It's part of the game," Hernandez said. "You cannot be upset by errors. You just have to make good pitches and not have it make any difference."

Altuve scores on an error

Bregman's back: Bregman wasn't even included on the Astros' list of available players for Tuesday's game, but he returned to action from his hamstring injury all the same in the bottom of the sixth -- pinch-hitting for Jason Castro -- and made an instant impact. On his fourth pitch back, Bregman hit a single to shallow center field, scoring Yulieski Gurriel and tying the game at 4. More >

"It's pretty rough to not be able to go out there and compete with your brothers and to come up like that -- with a hit to tie the game -- was awesome," Bregman said. "It felt great."

Bregman's RBI single

Cano keeps cranking: Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano continued his one-man assault on the Astros as he doubled twice in four at-bats and scored Seattle's first run. Cano is 19-for-37 (.514) with six homers and 11 RBIs in nine games at Minute Maid Park this season and 26-for-72 (.361) with eight homers and 22 RBIs in 18 games overall against Houston going into Wednesday's final meeting of 2016, which now looms large with both teams clinging to Wild Card hopes.

"We just have to stay positive," Cano said. "Erase what happened tonight and come out tomorrow with the same energy and believe we still have a chance. A lot of things can happen in five games."

Cruz's RBI single

QUOTABLE
"We didn't really want to use him. We really wanted to push this as long as we could and have him do as many workouts [as possible]. He has a flight booked for Florida [for a rehab assignment]. I don't think he'll make that one." -- Hinch on Bregman returning from injury

"The thing is, we came in here knowing we had to win this series and get help. We're kind of in the same boat. We have a chance to win the series tomorrow and we still need some help. We are not done yet. I keep saying that and our team certainly believes it. Tomorrow is a big game. We know that. We have to let this one go and come out tomorrow and get after it." -- Servais

AFTER FURTHER REVIEW
The Mariners unsuccessfully challenged a critical safe call on a play at first when Lind bobbled a grounder from Marisnick in the sixth-inning rally, with Marisnick beating Lind with a head-first dive to the bag. After a one-minute, 31-second review, the call stood and Lind was charged with an error and the inning continued. The Astros then followed with two-RBI hits by Springer and Gonzalez to break the game open.

"I thought he was out," Lind said. "I made it more difficult than it should have been, but he was out. I usually don't argue, but I thought he was clearly out."

WHAT'S NEXT
Mariners:
James Paxton (5-7, 3.72 ERA) closes out the series Wednesday at Minute Maid Park in Seattle's final road game. The 27-year-old southpaw is 0-2 with a 4.74 ERA in three career starts against Houston. First pitch is at 11:10 a.m. PT.

Astros: The Astros play their home regular-season finale at 1:10 p.m. and will send right-hander Doug Fister (12-12, 4.42 ERA) to the mound. In last nine starts, Fister is 2-5 with a 7.36 ERA. The Astros have lost each of last six starts.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.