Seattle Slam Stuns Astros

Marisnick: Two sliding grabs
(c) Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle
Daniel Vogelbach. Really?

With Seattle facing elimination on Monday night, Daniel Vogelbach, a 250-lb Hoss Cartwright of a reserve first baseman with a .198 career batting average in three partial seasons as a Mariner, redirected a 97-mph rising fastball from Hector Rondon into the Houston bullpen for an eighth-inning grand slam to crush the Astros, 4-1. Houston still leads idle Oakland by four games.

Framber Valdez tossed five scoreless innings, giving up just two hits although walking five. Joe Smith, Tony Sipp and Ryan Pressly finished off the sixth and seventh.

Rondon came in for the eighth and it all went crazy. Nelson Cruz started it with a single and left for a pinch-runner. Ryon Healy spanked one into center but Jake Marisnick laid out for a diving catch. One away.

Kyle Seager poked a single to left then pinch-hitter Robinson Cano hit a bloop to shallow left-center. Marisnick made another diving stab off the Minute Maid turf. Two gone.

Denard Span walked to fill the bases before Vogelbach did his Roger Freed impression. For good measure, Dee Gordon tripled but the bases were empty and he did not score.

Houston's only offense came in the fourth with two outs when Yuli Gurriel and Marwin Gonzalez connected on back-to-back doubles for their only run. The Astros earned just three hits on the night even with former castoff Wade LeBlanc going 5-1/3rd for the Mariners. Four Seamen tamed the Astros with no-hit ball the rest of the way, including Eveready Eddie Diaz who notched his 56th save.

Mike Leake (10-9) will try to stave off elimination one more night for the Mariners as he faces rookie flamethrower Josh James (0-0) in a 7:10 pm Central duel. Leake is 1-1 in three previous starts against Houston this year.

- Bob Hulsey