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Houston's McHugh struggles in 8-7 loss to Seattle as Astros drop to 10-21

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HOUSTON - Collin McHugh didn't do much to make a case to remain in Houston's rotation.

After dominant performances in his first two games with the Astros, McHugh struggled Sunday in an 8-7 loss to the Seattle Mariners.

He put the Astros in a hole early by allowing six runs — five earned — and eight hits in four innings. Despite a late Astros' rally attempt, the Mariners' four-run third inning proved too much to overcome.

"Just not executing pitches very well is what it comes down to," McHugh said. "I just missed with a couple of pitches here and there. They put some good swings on it, and that really took the wind out of the sails in that third inning."

With Houston ace Scott Feldman expected to return from the disabled list on Friday, manager Bo Porter will have to move someone out of the rotation to make room.

McHugh entered Sunday's game with a 0.59 ERA and 19 strikeouts in two starts. He struck out 12 in 6 2-3 scoreless innings against Seattle on April 22.

"What you saw today was a Seattle Mariners team making an adjustment from the last time they faced him," Porter said. "He didn't have the sharpness to his breaking stuff like he did that day in Seattle."

Brandon Maurer (1-0) allowed four runs and six hits in five innings for his first win since Sept. 28 against Oakland. Danny Farquhar allowed one run in two innings for his first save since that same game last autumn. Farquhar gave up a two-out single to Jason Castro that pulled Houston within one run in the ninth, then struck out Matt Dominguez to end the game.

Willie Bloomquist broke a 1-all tie with a two-run double against McHugh, and Robinson Cano followed with his first triple since June 3, 2012.

Alex Presley and Jonathan Villar homered, and Chris Carter and Marc Krauss had two RBIs apiece for the Astros, who lost for the seventh time in 10 games and dropped to a big league-worst 10-21.

Houston has been better on offence lately, but that improvement hasn't translated to more wins. The Astros have scored at least five runs in six of their last eight games.

"We're really starting to swing the bats much better," Porter said. "The early struggles are behind them. I love the fact that there are a lot of deep counts, which lets me know that they're seeing the ball a lot better."

Cano hit an RBI groundout in the first after Michael Saunders singled leading off and took third on McHugh's errant pickoff throw, which went for an error.

Presley's leadoff homer tied the score in the second.

After Cano's triple, Corey Hart singled for a 5-1 lead in the third. John Buck, who had three hits, doubled and scored on Saunders' single in the fourth.

Carter, who entered with a .169 average, hit a two-run double in the fourth — three of his four homers and seven of his 12 RBIs have come off Mariners pitching.

Seattle boosted its lead to 7-3 in the fifth when Jerome Williams walked Dustin Ackley with the bases loaded. Villar homered in the bottom half.

Villar, who leads AL shortstops with 14 extra-base hits, hit .407 with two homers and seven RBIs during a 10-game homestand. It was the second consecutive game in which he's homered, and he leads the Astros with five.

NOTES: Houston designated LHP Raul Valdes for assignment and recalled LHP Darin Downs from Triple-A Oklahoma City. ... Feldman, who has been on the DL since mid-April with right biceps tendinitis, felt good after throwing 60 pitches in a simulated game on Sunday. ... Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said there won't be any pitch limitations on RHP Hisashi Iwakuma in his next start after he threw 81 pitches Saturday in his first outing after coming off the DL. "There's no reason why he can't go 100 or 105 pitches next time out," McClendon said.

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