Seattle Mariners’ Robinson Cano is embraced by Cameron Maybin (10) in the dugout after Cano’s three-run home run against the Houston Astros in the eighth inning of a baseball game, Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, in Seattle. The Mariners won 7-4. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Cano homers late, lifts Mariners to 7-4 win over Astros

Seattle pulls within 3.5 games of division lead

SEATTLE — Robinson Cano hit his first home run since returning from an 80-game suspension, a three-run shot in the bottom of the eighth inning and lifted the Seattle Mariners to a key 7-4 win over the Houston Astros on Monday night.

Seattle won its fifth straight against the Astros, thanks to a huge night from Cano. He doubled twice earlier in the game — his first two extra-base hits since coming back from his suspension for violating baseball’s joint drug policy. But those were precursors to his drive to left-centre field off Houston’s Collin McHugh (5-2) with one out in the eighth.

It was Cano’s fifth home run of the season and his first since May 12 against Detroit. Seattle pulled within 3 1/2 games of Houston in the division race, while the Astros fell back into a tie with Oakland for the top spot in the AL West.

Alex Colome (4-5) pitched a perfect eighth and Edwin Diaz closed out the ninth for his 48th save.

Seattle finally came through with runners in scoring position after going 1 for 12 through the first seven innings, the only hit being Mitch Haniger’s RBI single in the sixth inning that pulled the Mariners even at 4-4.

Dee Gordon reached on an infield single with one out in the eighth — with manager Scott Servais ejected during the at-bat — and Haniger followed with a walk. Cano got a fastball on the outside part of the plate and drove it out.

Marwin Gonzalez homered in the first and added a two-run double in the third, but Houston was limited to one hit after the third inning. Seattle pitchers retired 21 of the final 22 batters.

Felix Hernandez was solid in his return to the rotation after a brief demotion to the Seattle bullpen. Hernandez allowed four runs in six innings, with Gonzalez being the only batter to cause Hernandez issues. Hernandez scattered five hits — three of those to Gonzalez — and despite the four earned runs had one of his better starts of the season.

EJECTION

Servais was ejected in the eighth inning, protecting Gordon after he started arguing a strike call by home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski. Servais stepped between the two and was quickly tossed. It was his third ejection of the season.

MVP RETURNS

The Astros expect to activate 2B Jose Altuve off the 10-day disabled list before Tuesday’s game. Altuve has been out since July 26 with a sore knee. He played one game for Triple-A Fresno on Sunday and collected his first-ever Triple-A hit. Altuve made the jump directly from Double-A to joining the Astros.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: OF George Springer was scratched from the lineup due to a sore left quad. Manager A.J. Hinch said Springer reported the soreness after arriving at the ballpark. It’s not considered serious and Springer could have been used off the bench if needed. … C Brian McCann and RHP Chris Devenski will continue their rehab assignments with Double-A Corpus Christi later this week. Their chances of rejoining the Astros will be re-evaluated next week when the club comes off the road and returns to Houston.

Mariners: LHP James Paxton threw for the second straight day as he recovers from the forearm contusion suffered when he was hit by a line drive. Paxton threw at about 90-100 feet but still no set timetable on his potential return. … Relief pitcher Sam Tuivailala had surgery late last week to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon suffered earlier this month. Recovery time is expected to be six to eight months, meaning Tuivailala will likely miss the start of the 2019 season.

UP NEXT

Astros: Hinch said the starter on Tuesday will be a right-hander from the bullpen but was unsure who it would be.

Mariners: Mike Leake (8-7) is coming off his best start of the season where he pitched eight scoreless innings and allowed two hits against Oakland. Leake has recorded a quality start in his past six outings.

___

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports .

Tim Booth, The Associated Press

MLB

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