SEATTLE - At this point in the season when things should be coming together, there is a sense that the Houston Astros are falling apart.
The Astros went down to their sixth straight defeat Tuesday night as Seattle Mariners right-hander Aaron Harang matched his career low in yielding just two hits in a complete-game 4-0 shutout victory.
Harang (3-6) had a season-high 10 strikeouts - the 12th time in his career with 10-or-more, and no walks. It was his 15th career complete game and eighth shutout.
"It's kind of frustrating right now," said starter Bud Norris, who worked seven innings, allowing five hits and three runs. "We've been through a slump before, but this one is really kind of getting to us.
"The guys have been going out there, playing hard and that's not the problem. ... We need to keep picking up both sides of the ball and play as a unit - a 25-man roster have to pick everyone up."
While the offence struggled, so did the defence. Spotty defence played a role in both the Mariners' first two runs.
In the first, Endy Chavez opened with a double into the right-field corner and advanced to third when shortstop Ronny Cedeno missed the relay. After two outs, Chavez scored on Norris' wild pitch, on a 1-2 pitch to Ibanez.
Then in the second inning it happened again. Nick Franklin opened with a double to right and right-fielder Trevor Crowe's throw to second was wide of Cedeno for another error. The Astros have committed a major league-high 49 errors.
Franklin advanced to third and scored on Michael Saunders' sacrifice fly to deep left.
"They were just bad throws," said Crowe, who threw both balls in from right field. "The first one I had a chance. The second one you just have to slow down and make a better throw.
"It's very unfortunate, the way Bud pitched tonight."
Houston has committed a major league high 49 errors.
The Mariners have eight shutouts this season, tied with Cleveland for the most in the American League.
The Astros have been shut out a league-high seven times.
"He attacked the zone," Astros manager Bo Porter said of Harang. "I don't think it wasn't anything we weren't prepared for; it just seemed like he missed barrels and changed speeds when he needed to."
"When a team is going through a bit of a funk and you have that happening as an offence, sometimes guys get frustrated and try to do too much," Crowe said. "We may be going through a bit of that right now."
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said it was the command of his fastball that made Harang so effective against the Astros.
"He was fantastic," Wedge said. "When he commands his fastball and it rides like it was tonight, and he's able to leverage it downhill and climb when he wants to, he's real good. When he does that his secondary stuff is locked in, too, like it was tonight.
Harang allowed a two-out infield single to deep short by J.D. Martinez in the second inning. He then retired 16 of the next 17 batters, as the only Astro to reach during that span was Brandon Barnes on a sixth-inning error.
Martinez also collected the other hit, an inning-opening single to left in the seventh. He never advanced past first.
Raul Ibanez hit his team-leading 13th home run - his second in as many nights - in the sixth inning. It was his 74th career home run at Safeco Field, the most by any player.
Norris (5-6), who walked just one and struck out six, was not 100 per cent. He was sent home Monday because of cold-like symptoms and wasn't much improved by game time Tuesday.
Porter said for Norris to step up under those conditions "was outstanding."
"I appreciate the compliment but I'm still pretty frustrated with the result unfortunately," Norris said. "We need to pick it up.
"You have to go out there every fifth day. That is my job. I understand I'm not going to feel 100 per cent every start, but to go out there and do battle for my team is what I've always played the game to do."
The Mariners added a run in the eighth off Wesley Wright. Chavez opened with a double and scored on Kyle Seager's one-out single to right.
NOTES: The Mariners had the rare occurrence of having their 2012 first-round draft choice and their 2013 first-rounder on their home field before the game. C Mike Zunino, last year's third overall selection, was called up before the game. He is the first position player to reach the majors. The club's top pick this year, 12th overall, 3B D.J. Peterson, was invited in along with a half-dozen other draftees. ... Astros LF J.D. Martinez had a pair of singles in his three at-bats to give him at least one hit in 13 of his past 15 games. He's hitting .322 during that span. ... Jose Altuve's 11-game hit streak ended.