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Must C Clutch: Carter puts the Astros ahead late

SEATTLE -- The Astros couldn't score until their backs were against the wall, getting shut out for the first eight innings of Wednesday's game. But when the Mariners scratched a run across on Nick Franklin's single in the bottom of the eighth, Houston exploded for six runs in the ninth for a 6-1 win in the series finale in Seattle.

The club had played poorly in the first two games of the series, committing five errors while struggling to get hits off Seattle's pitchers. But in the final game of the series, the Astros came through and avoided a sweep, ending a six-game losing streak.

"I definitely think things are contagious as you move forward," manager Bo Porter said. "You put yourself in a position where it's a 0-0 ballgame, they're able to scratch a run across and then you come back and have the type of ninth inning that we had, you definitely believe that's something. That momentum will carry over."

On Wednesday night, it was Houston's turn to take advantage of a great pitching performance and some uncharacteristic miscues by the Mariners. Jordan Lyles pitched seven scoreless innings, striking out a career-high 10 batters in the no-decision.

"[Catcher Carlos] Corporan called a great game, we were on the same page all seven innings," Lyles said. "Curveball was pretty good tonight and we kept going to it. Kept burying it and guys were swinging over it, but Corpy did a heck of a job tonight."

Paul Clemens recorded the game's final four outs to pick up the win for the Astros.

After getting only three hits in the first eight innings, Houston's offense finally came alive in the ninth, batting around the Seattle bullpen and putting six runs on the board. A pair of singles by Jason Castro and J.D. Martinez gave Houston runners on first and second with no outs. A sacrifice bunt by Corporan advanced the runners, and Carlos Pena was intentionally walked to load the bases.

"He was just up today. We got the out at first base with the bunt, then you've got to get the ball on the ground there with the double-play candidate and the game's over," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said of his closer Tom Wilhelmsen, who was charged with five earned runs while picking up his fourth blown save and his second loss. "But he left another pitch up and they hit it pretty good. The ninth inning is a different animal. You saw that. The next two guys struggled, too."

Chris Carter gave Houston the lead with a two-run double. It was Carter's first hit of the series after hitting three home runs the last time the Astros were in Seattle. Yoervis Medina relieved Wilhelmsen after he intentionally walked Matt Dominguez, and left fielder Jason Bay was unable to track a line drive from Brandon Barnes in the rain, allowing it to fall for an RBI single.

After Marwin Gonzalez struck out, Jose Altuve brought in two more with a single, and the Astros got one more when Mariners reliever Charlie Furbush walked Trevor Crowe with the bases loaded .

Seattle had threatened early in the game, when rookies Franklin and Mike Zunino led off the fourth with a double and a single, respectively. It was the second career at-bat for Zunino, the No. 3 pick in the 2012 draft.

Raul Ibanez loaded the bases with a walk, but Lyles got out of the inning unblemished, striking out the final two batters. He had three strikeouts in the inning.

"The big strikeout there with the bases loaded was huge," Porter said. "Locked into his pitches, he understood exactly how to pitch those guys and make quality pitch after quality pitch."

The Astros still had some trouble with the simple infield plays. The Mariners' lone run came after an error at shortstop by Gonzalez allowed Endy Chavez to advance to second. Franklin's hit scored him from there.

"Again, we had a costly error, and you can't continue to make mistakes and think that you're going to win ballgames," Porter said. "It's something that we definitely need to get rectified, lock into those situations a little bit better."

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