SEATTLE - For a team with the worst record in the major leagues, the Houston Astros seem to be having a good time lately.
Things are looking up slightly for Houston.
Behind Brad Peacock's strong starting performance and timely hitting, the Astros beat the Seattle Mariners 6-1 on Wednesday night, completing a sweep of the three-game series and giving them a winning record so far in September.
"Definitely we want to finish strong," Peacock said. "All the guys are coming together. We have a fun team here, we all get along great and we just carry that on the field. We have fun out there."
Houston's record of 50-96 is still the bottom of the league, but the Astros have won six of 11 in September. This was their third sweep of the season, and the first since early June.
"It's something we talked about headed down the stretch to the end of the year, let's build some momentum moving toward next year," manager Bo Porter said.
The Mariners aren't exactly a top-level opponent — with a 65-81 record, they're also finishing a disappointing season. But the Astros will take their wins where they can get them.
Kendrys Morales hit the 100th home run of his career for Seattle, which has lost four straight at home and starts a 10-game trip on Friday.
Peacock (5-5) allowed four hits, struck out four, walked one and retired the final nine batters he faced for his fourth win in five starts. The right-hander has pitched into the sixth inning or deeper six times in his seven starts since being called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Aug. 4. In his five previous starts for the Astros — all in April — he never got past the fifth.
"He's been outstanding from the time we called him back up," Porter said. "It's been quality start after quality start."
Porter said the biggest difference in Peacock's performance from the first month of the season to now is an improved curveball. Peacock attributed his success to the time he spent in Oklahoma City midseason.
"I just got my confidence back," he said
The Astros took a 5-0 lead after three innings, but the Mariners did threaten late. Trailing by four runs, Seattle loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth inning. Reliever Josh Zeid came in and got Raul Ibanez to pop out to third base, ending the inning. Zeid then pitched the ninth to earn his first career save.
"I came in, obviously they have a little bit of faith in me, so I was just trying to be aggressive," Zeid said.
Brandon Maurer (4-8) allowed five runs — all scoring with two outs — and seven hits in three innings.
It was the first major league start for Maurer since May 28. The rookie right-hander started the season in the Mariners' rotation but was sent down to Triple-A on May 29 and worked out of the bullpen since being called back up in late July. He was pressed into duty to replace ace Felix Hernandez, who was originally scheduled for the start but was scratched Monday with a minor oblique strain.
As bad as the line was Wednesday, it represented an improvement over Maurer's last start against the Astros on April 9, when he gave up six hits and seven hits and didn't get out of the first inning.
"It's something he's dealt with before," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "When he gets into trouble he is not able to control the damage and he can't stop it. It dominos on him."
The Astros took a 2-0 lead in the second on a run-scoring double by Marc Krauss and Carlos Corporan's RBI single.
Houston added three more in the third. Jonathan Villar led off with a single, and with two outs Brett Wallace drove him in with a single, Matt Dominguez had a ground-rule double and Carter's single scored two runs.
Morales led off the fourth inning with his homer to right-centre field, his 21st of the season. It was the only time the Mariners really threatened other than the near rally in the eighth.
"It's way more fun to win," Zeid said. "When you win ballgames it brings the group together."
NOTES: Porter said RHP Paul Clemens, who was scratched from his scheduled start Sunday, has recovered from a blister on his right hand and will start against the Angels on Sunday. ... Seattle OF Abraham Almonte came out of Tuesday's game with stiffness in his legs and was out of the lineup Wednesday as well, although Wedge said he expects Almonte to be ready for Friday's game in St. Louis. ... Wedge had no problems with the players-only meeting held by the Mariners after Tuesday's 13-2 loss to the Astros. "I think it's good. I always welcome that. When the players take responsibility for each other and for themselves, I think it says a great deal," Wedge said.