SEATTLE - By the time Trevor Crowe came to the plate in the ninth inning, everything was going right for the Houston Astros. So much so that even a simple foul pop up to the first baseman turned into a run.
Houston's four-run rally in the ninth inning to beat the Seattle Mariners 6-4 on Monday night was capped by a bizarre play that started as Crowe fouled out to first baseman Justin Smoak with runners on second and third. Smoak's throw to the plate hit Crowe crouched in foul territory and bounced away, allowing Jonathan Villar to score.
"I put my head down, and I felt something hit me," Crowe said. "I looked to the right, and there goes the baseball, and I see Villar scampering home."
The crazy run was fitting for a game that featured the Astros rallying for only the third time this season when trailing after eight inning in front of the smallest crowd in Safeco Field history, as well as two rookie starters making their final appearance of the season.
"To come back in the ninth was huge. Young team learning how to win games, we did that today. Really good comeback," said Crowe, who also had a single and a run-scoring double in the game.
Abraham Almonte's first major league homer, a two-run shot in the seventh inning, gave the Mariners a 3-2 lead. Seattle reliever Charlie Furbush got out of a jam in the eighth, but in the ninth the Astros broke through.
Danny Farquhar (0-3) walked Marc Krauss and Carlos Corporan with one out, and Jimmy Paredes' run-scoring single tied the game at 3. Villar then gave Houston a two-run lead with his hit to centre.
"It was good just to see the quality of the at-bats during that ninth inning," Houston manager Bo Porter said. "From the two walks to the base hits by Jimmy and Villar — we strung together good at-bat after good at-bat."
It was the fourth blown save of the season for Farquhar, but only his second in the closer role.
"It's going to be hard to sleep tonight," Farquhar said. "But it's the same thing as usual, whether you pitch good or pitch bad, learn from your mistakes. ... There's nothing you can do — if you dwell on it you'll drive yourself nuts."
Kevin Chapman (1-1) pitched a scoreless eighth to earn the win, and Josh Fields pitched the ninth for his fourth save in five chances despite giving up a solo homer to Brad Miller.
The announced attendance of 9,808 was 10 fewer than the previous low at the 14-year-old park, set April 29 against the Orioles. Before this season, the previous low was 11,352 — a mark set April 18, 2012, against Cleveland. This year, the Mariners have drawn fewer than that number five times.
Houston starter Jarred Cosart gave up an unearned run on two hits, struck out three and walked six. Before the game Porter told him this would be his final start of the season, and he'd be limited to five innings, unless he had a no-hitter or a shutout going.
"They said go out there, leave it all out there, and I did," Cosart said. "I honestly don't have much left, my body's tired."
Cosart has pitched a total of 153 innings between Triple-A and 10 starts with Houston. He may not have much left, but what he's done has been impressive, as he finishes with a major league ERA of 1.95.
Seattle starter Taijuan Walker ended his brief inaugural major league season with a no-decision despite striking out eight over five innings and retiring the final nine batters he faced. The Mariners said leading up to the game it would be Walker's final appearance since he had thrown 151 1-3 inning between his minor and major league starts going into Monday's outing.
Two of his three starts in the majors have been against Houston. Walker picked up the win in his debut on Aug. 30, but this time the Astros picked up a pair of runs off five hits. Paredes drove in the first with a sacrifice fly in the second, and Jose Altuve and Crowe opened the third with back-to-back doubles to give the Astros a 2-1 lead.
Seattle's pitchers retired the next 15 batters but Carter Capps got into a jam in the eighth before Furbush bailed him out. Furbush came on with one out, runners on second and third, and the Mariners clinging to their 3-2 lead. He struck out pinch-hitter Brandon Laird and got Matt Dominguez to ground out, but all it did was delay the rally until the ninth inning.
NOTES: Seattle ace Felix Hernandez will not make his scheduled start on Wednesday, the second time his turn in the rotation has been pushed back due to soreness. "I guess you'd call it a minor oblique strain on the left side, if you had to put a label on it, but it was more just stiffness," manager Eric Wedge said. Hernandez will throw from flat ground at the end of the week when the team travels to St. Louis. ... The Astros reinstated C Carlos Corporan from the seven-day concussion disabled list before the game and he started at catcher.