James Paxton throws well, Nelson Cruz homers and Dee Gordon's hits go-ahead double in 2-1 victory

PAXTONThe Seattle Mariners started their early-season four-game series with Houston in a positive way Monday at Safeco Field.

Houston's George Springer led off the game with a homer, but James Paxton threw six strong innings, relievers continued to pitch well and Nelson Cruz hit a home run and Dee Gordon a go-ahead double as Seattle beat the defending World Series champs, 2-1.

The Mariners moved to 9-5, Houston fell to 10-7.

The second game of the series is 7 p.m. Tuesday, with Ariel Miranda pitching for Seattle opposite Lance McCullers Jr.

Clinging to a 2-1 lead, the Mariners escaped the ninth inning. Closer Edwin Diaz walked Carlos Correa, who later stole second base. With two out, Diaz struck out Marwin Gonzalez to end the game.

After Springer's homer to start the game, Paxton settled down to allow three hits and one run while striking out seven and walking three walks in six innings.

Meanwhile, Cruz homered off Astros starter Dallas Keuchel in the fourth inning. Then, backup catcher David Freitas doubled to lead off the sixth inning and scored on Gordon's double.

Keuchel, in falling to 0-3, gave up six hits and two runs while striking out six and walking one in eight innings.

Nick Vincent, Juan Nicasio and Diaz each pitched an inning of hitless ball to support Paxton, who earned his first win of the season.

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