- Associated Press - Saturday, June 13, 2015

HOUSTON (AP) - Collin McHugh put himself in a big hole early and a struggling Houston offense couldn’t get him out of it.

McHugh (6-3) gave up five runs in the first inning Saturday and the Astros went on to lose 8-1 to the Seattle Mariners.

“Five-run innings are a punch in the gut,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.

No need to tell McHugh that.

Seattle jumped on him for eight runs - five coming on home runs by Logan Morrison - in just three innings, marking the right-hander’s shortest outing of the season.

“They were hitting the ball well,” McHugh said. “I was missing a lot of spots, and it got out hand early.”

A day after beating Seattle 10-0 to halt a seven-game slide, the Astros had to wait until the fifth inning to get on the board, thanks to George Springer’s ground-rule double to center that scored Jason Castro from third.

Houston has lost eight of its last nine games and has averaged just over two runs per game in those losses.

McHugh allowed nine hits and the eight runs tied a career high.

“He didn’t control damage,” Hinch said. “That’s the story of the game.”

Morrison connected for his first homer since May 12, a two-out, three-run shot in the first that made it 5-0.

He didn’t have to wait long for another one, launching a two-run drive in the third to almost the exact same spot in right-center field. It was the third multihomer run game of his career, and the five RBIs tied a career high.

“The big blow is Morrison’s first homer,” Hinch said. “He’s almost out of that inning with a two-run inning, and all of a sudden it turns into a five-run inning. That’s a difficult thing to come back from.”

Morrison extended his hitting streak at Minute Maid Park to 18 games and Saturday was his first five-RBI game since June 19, 2012.

It was a rare offensive outburst for the Mariners, who entered the game last in the American League in runs scored and having scored three runs or fewer in 15 of their last 16 games.

Houston couldn’t do much against rookie Mike Montgomery (1-1), who allowed six hits and one run while walking three in six innings.

“(Montgomery) executed,” Springer said. “He was able to change speeds on us and not really allow our offense to go.”

Montgomery became the second player in franchise history to pitch at least six innings while allowing two earned runs or fewer in each of his first three career starts and the first since Bob Stoddard in 1981.

The Astros were without All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve, who sat out with a strained right hamstring after injuring it Friday. He is listed as day to day.

The Mariners got things going with a single by Austin Jackson with one out in the first. Robinson Cano followed with a double and a single by Nelson Cruz made it 1-0. Kyle Seager had a sacrifice fly, Mark Trumbo singled and Morrison homered.

Jackson’s RBI single in the third inning pushed the lead to 8-0.

Roberto Hernandez, who has started 11 games this season, struck out five in four scoreless innings for the Astros in his first relief appearance this year after McHugh’s early exit.

Hinch said he would evaluate McHugh’s mechanics, including his posture, his windup and his stretch.

“He was leaving some pitches up,” Hinch said. “I think his arm was dragging a bit.”

McHugh was left looking for how to get back on track.

“Got to fix something,” McHugh said. “Got to figure something out.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: Altuve probably won’t play Sunday, but the Astros don’t expect him to be out too long. … Starter Brad Peacock (left intercostal strain) had a setback after a rehabilitation start at Double-A Corpus Christi and will return to Houston to be re-evaluated. “I feel bad for him,” Hinch said. “I’m not sure what it means, and I don’t want to rush to too many judgments until we talk to him. To have this rehab stint interrupted is certainly not something he wants or something we want.”

UP NEXT

Houston rookie Lance McCullers opposes LHP Roenis Elias when the teams wrap up the three-game series Sunday. McCullers has struck out 36 batters in his first five starts to tie a franchise record for most strikeouts in a player’s first five games.


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