Taylor Williams’ pro baseball road has taken many twists and turns.
Sunday, that journey arrived at a milestone — his first major league save.
Williams, an all-state pitcher in 2010 at Camas High School, worked the ninth inning of the Seattle Mariners’ 7-6 win over the Houston Astros.
Williams had to work hard for the save.
After allowing a leadoff double to Kyle Tucker, Williams struck out three-time All-Star George Springer and 2017 American League MVP Jose Altuve.
Michael Brantley then hit a ground-rule double to right, driving in Tucker. After a visit by Mariners pitching coach Pete Woodworth, Williams closed out the win by striking out two-time All-Star Alex Bregman.
It was the Mariners’ first win in three games this season and snapped a 15-game losing streak against the Astros.
“The biggest thing is that we won,” Williams told reporters after the game. “Getting your first save is pretty cool. It’s a pretty surreal moment. I was a Mariners fan growing up. It’s a blessing being able to put this jersey on every single day. Getting my first career save as a Mariner means a lot to me.”
With the Mariners using a “closer by committee” approach during the abbreviated 2020 season, Williams was the first to get the ball in a save situation this year.
He threw 30 pitches, 17 for strikes. While his fastball reached 95 miles per hour, his best pitch was his slider, which he used to strike out Springer, Altuve and Bregman swinging.
Williams was claimed off waivers by the Mariners this offseason after making 71 appearances for the Milwaukee Brewers over three seasons. He made his major league debut in 2017 after missing two full years while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
“It was a dream come true,” Williams told The Columbian in April about being signed by the Mariners. “My mom actually cried she was so excited. It’s cool to be a part of an organization you worshipped growing up.”
Sunday was Williams’ second appearance of the season. He pitched one scoreless inning, striking out two, in Seattle’s 7-2 loss to Houston on Saturday.
Kyle Lewis hit a tiebreaking two-run single in the eighth inning to put the Mariners in a position to win.
The Mariners trailed by 1 entering the eighth before Shed Long Jr.’s run-scoring single tied it at 5 with one out.
Long stole second base with two outs before Lewis, who homered in the first two games, knocked a ball thrown by Chris Devenski (0-1) into right field to score two and put the Mariners on top.
Seattle went 1-18 against Houston last season and lost the first two games of this season to extend the skid.
Dan Altavilla (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth.
Houston starter Zack Greinke came two outs from a no-hitter in his last regular season start, which was against Seattle on Sept. 25. On Sunday, Lewis spoiled his bid much earlier, singling with two outs in the first.
Kyle Seager doubled to score Lewis before scoring on a single by Evan White to make it 2-0.
The Astros cut the lead to 1 in the bottom of the inning when Bregman hit an RBI double to left field but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double to end the inning.
Mallex Smith and Long both hit RBI doubles in the fourth to extend the lead to 4-1.
The Astros loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth with two walks and a single by Brantley.
Yuli Gurriel’s RBI single got Houston within 4-2. Yusei Kikuchi struck out the next two batters before his bases-loaded walk of Josh Reddick cut the lead to 1.
Martin Maldonado then sent a ball skipping down the third base line for a single that scored two to put Houston on top 5-4 and end Kikuchi’s day.
Maldonado has five hits and six RBIs in the first three games. He’s the first MLB catcher to have six or more RBIs in the first three games of a season since Brian McCann also had six in 2007.
Kikuchi yielded five hits and five runs with four walks in 3 2/3 innings.
Greinke allowed four hits and three runs while walking two in 3 1/3 innings.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.