By Brett Dolan

A.J. Hinch joked during spring training that batting eighth in the Astros stacked line-up was like being a second cleanup hitter. New catcher Brian McCann was batting eighth Tuesday night and delivered his first Astros home run, a solo shot to the Crawford Boxes in the third inning. Nine-hole hitter Marwin Gonzalez provided another solo blast in the sixth to give the Astros the lead for good on the way to a 2-1 win over the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park.

Gonzalez defelected any praise for his homer and credited the pitching efforts.

“Lance (McCullers) kept us in the game,” Gonzalez said. “He threw a really good game and the relievers were outstanding too, like yesterday, so that was the ballgame right there with the pitchers.”

Gonzalez’s homer made a winner out of McCullers, who threw six innings of five hit, one-run baseball while striking out seven. McCullers also threw 61 of his 88 pitches for strikes.

The lone Mariners run came in the fourth inning when Mitch Haniger doubled to lead off the frame and eventually scored on an infield single from Danny Valencia to tie the game at 1. However McCullers was able to leave the bases loaded to end the threat.

“That was the game right there,” McCann explained. “He kept his composure.”

“I felt really good most of the start,” McCullers said. “I felt pretty locked in. The fastball was pretty good. Curveball mix was solid, I mixed in a few changeups along the way. I felt good.”

Will Harris, Luke Gregerson and Ken Giles all threw scoreless innings to finish off the game.

The Astros (2-0) will host Seattle in game three of the four-game set Wednesday night. Charlie Morton will start and make his Astros debut. James Paxton will start for the Mariners in the 7:10 p.m. game.



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