HOUSTON — Carlos Correa and Evan Gattis had two hits apiece and each drove in a run as the Houston Astros jumped on James Paxton and cruised to a 5-2 win over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night to move closer to clinching the American League West.
Houston’s magic number dropped to two, meaning the Astros could earn a playoff spot and secure their first division title since 2001 with a win on Saturday if the Angels lose Friday or Saturday.
The Astros led 3-0 after one inning as Paxton (12-4) struggled in his return from the disabled list after sitting out since Aug. 10 with a strained pectoral muscle. He allowed four hits and three runs while walking two in 1 1/3 innings to snap a seven-game winning streak. It tied the shortest start of his career and was his first loss since June 27.
Charlie Morton (12-7) went six strong innings, allowing five hits and one run while fanning seven. Ken Giles pitched a scoreless ninth for his 31st save.
Jean Segura had two hits and drove in two for the Mariners, who remain in the hunt for the second AL wild card.
Paxton had trouble locating his pitches from the start, walking leadoff hitter George Springer and throwing two wild pitches in the first inning. The first one allowed Springer to advance to second and he scored on a one-out single by Jose Altuve. Paxton’s second wild pitch put Altuve at second and the Astros made it 2-0 when he scored on a double by Correa, which sailed just out of reach of a leaping Guillermo Heredia in center field.
Gattis snapped an 0-for-15 skid with an RBI single with two outs to make it 3-0 before Paxton walked Josh Reddick. He finally escaped the inning by retiring Tyler White.
Springer doubled with one out in the second to chase Paxton. Gattis doubled with two outs in the third and scored on a single by Reddick to push the lead to 4-0.
Segura hit a leadoff double before Morton retired the next 10 batters. Robinson Cano singled with one out in the fourth and Nelson Cruz walked, but Morton sat down the next two Mariners to end the threat.
Ben Gamel and Heredia hit consecutive singles with one out in the fifth and Gamel scored when Segura reached on an error by Morton to cut the lead to 4-1.
Cameron Maybin extended the lead to 5-1 with an RBI single with two outs in the sixth.
Segura drove in a run with a single in the seventh inning to make it 5-2.
Astros: OF Jake Marisnick had surgery on Friday to repair a broken right thumb he suffered while sliding headfirst into second base on Wednesday night. He is expected to be out six to eight weeks. … RHP Lance McCullers, who was scratched from his scheduled start on Wednesday after experiencing arm fatigue during pregame throwing, will throw a bullpen on Saturday. If that goes well he could start on Tuesday against the White Sox.
Mariners: Erasmo Ramirez (5-5, 4.25 ERA) is scheduled to start for Seattle on Saturday. He yielded five hits and two runs in 6 2/3 innings of a 5-3 loss to the Angels his last time out.
Astros: Dallas Keuchel (12-4, 3.03) will start on Saturday for Houston. The left-hander will look to get back on track after allowing six hits and four runs in 5 2/3 innings of a 10-2 loss to Oakland in his last start.