By KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — The Seattle Mariners are still far behind the AL West-leading Astros in the standings.
But manager Scott Servais hopes the team’s first series win in Houston since 2018 will be a small — but important — step in one day vying with the Astros for a division title.
Cal Raleigh and Ty France both homered early and the Mariners beat the Astros 6-3 Wednesday night to finally win a series at Minute Maid Park.
“You have to eventually (win in Houston) or we’re never going to win the West,” Servais said. “That’s just where it’s at.”
The Mariners took two of three to win their fourth consecutive series overall and first in Houston since September 2018.
The Astros have won the AL West in four of the last five years and currently have a nine-game lead over the second-place Angels.
“They’ve dominated the division the last couple of years, so anytime you can come in here and take a series from them it’s good,” Raleigh said.
Seattle has struggled at Minute Maid Park in recent years. The Mariners won more games in this set than they did in Houston in the 2019 and 2020 seasons combined when they were a paltry 1-16.
“We have taken our lumps in this ballpark but guys really stepped up in this series and again today,” Servais said.
Seattle is in fourth place in the division, but has heated up lately, winning eight of its last 12 games.
“We are moving the ball in the right direction,” Servais said. “We’re still chipping away, we still got work to do, but we did exactly what we needed to do on this trip.”
The Mariners trailed by two with one on and one out in the fourth when Raleigh homered for the second time this series, a shot to right-center off José Urquidy (5-3) that tied it at 3.
France connected with two outs in the inning for a solo drive that put Seattle ahead.
Logan Gilbert (6-2) allowed seven hits and three runs in six innings to win his second straight decision. He gave up the three runs early before settling down to pitch three scoreless frames. Diego Castillo struck out the side in the ninth for his fourth save.
Urquidy yielded seven hits and five runs — four earned — while walking a career-high four in 4 1/3 innings.
Yordan Alvarez had three hits and drove in two runs for the Astros, who also dropped a series to the Mariners last week in Seattle.
“We ran into a hot club,” manager Dusty Baker said. “So we just have to regroup.”
The Mariners got a double from J.P. Crawford to start the fifth and he moved to third after a single by Eugenio Suarez and an error by shortstop Aledmys Díaz. A sacrifice fly by Adam Frazier chased Urquidy.
Seattle rookie Julio Rodríguez was hit on the left arm in consecutive at-bats in the sixth and eighth innings. He took first base without incident both times, a stark contrast to the events in Monday night’s game when benches cleared and multiple ejections came after France was plunked by Héctor Neris.
Jesse Winker padded the lead with a run-scoring single in the eighth.
Alvarez put Houston up early with an RBI single with two outs in the first.
Urquidy walked Winker with one out in the second and he advanced to second on a wild pitch by Urquidy with two outs. Rodríguez walked before Seattle tied it at 1 on a single by Crawford.
Jose Altuve opened the Houston second with a double on a line drive to left field. Alex Bregman singled with one out and Altuve was thrown out at the plate.
A double by Alvarez drove in Bregman and put the Astros on top 2-1. Kyle Tucker then singled home another run.
Mariners: OF Kyle Lewis, who has been out since sustaining a concussion May 28, is still experiencing symptoms and has yet to resume baseball activities. … RF Mitch Haniger (sprained right ankle) is not yet running but has been hitting in the cage. There is no timetable for his return.
Mariners: Seattle has an off-day Thursday before hosting the Boston Red Sox on Friday night in the opener of an 11-game homestand.
Astros: Houston is also off Thursday before opening a three-game interleague series with Miami on Friday night.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports