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Oberholtzer blanks Mariners as Astros end skid
Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Brett Oberholtzer fired a four-hit shutout and Jason Castro broke a scoreless tie with an RBI double in the bottom of the eighth inning, allowing the Houston Astros to avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of the Seattle Mariners with a 2-0 decision in the series finale.
Castro's double off Charlie Furbush (2-5) and Brandon Barnes' pinch-hit RBI single later in the eighth aided a gem from Oberholtzer (4-1) in his sixth major league start. The young lefty did not permit an extra-base hit and walked just one in a 113-pitch effort that halted a string of five straight Houston losses.
"He was on the attack from pitch No. 1," Astros manager Bo Porter said of Oberholtzer. "He decided he was going to be aggressive and attack the strike zone."
Hisashi Iwakuma matched zeros with Oberholtzer for the game's first seven innings before being removed for Furbush in the eighth. The Seattle righty scattered six hits and struck out seven while issuing just one walk.
Iwakuma was lifted after 99 pitches despite setting down 10 of the final 12 hitters he faced. Furbush, on the other hand, was greeted by Jose Altuve's third hit of the day -- an opposite-field double to open the bottom of the eighth. Castro followed with a deep drive into the gap in right center that easily brought home the game's first run.
After taking third on Matt Dominguez's flyout, Castro came around when Barnes dropped down a bunt as part of a successful suicide squeeze that pushed the lead to 2-0. Barnes reached on the play as Mariners second baseman Nick Franklin failed to cover first.
"It's one of those things right when I saw the runner take off, I took off immediately, hoping he'd push the ball toward me," said Franklin. "I ended up being wrong in that case and I was supposed to cover first. It's just a mistake you learn from."
Oberholtzer, who retired the side in order in both the seventh and eighth, did give up a one-out single to Kyle Seager that brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth. The rookie was up to the task, however, getting Kendrys Morales to foul out before inducing a game-ending fly ball from Franklin Gutierrez.
"I tried to push my A-plus stuff out of me," Oberholtzer said. "I got back to my strengths -- throwing fastball, changeup. The last couple of starts, it wasn't clicking, but today it was."
Seattle's best scoring chance came in the third, when Justin Smoak drew a leadoff walk and later raced to third on Brad Miller's two-out single. Oberholtzer was able to strike out Franklin swinging, though, and end the threat.
Outfielder Trevor Crowe, recalled by the Astros from Triple-A Oklahoma City prior to the game, went 2-for-4 with a double while starting in center field ... The Mariners recalled ousted closer Tom Wilhelmsen from Triple-A Tacoma on Sunday, with the right-hander recording the final out of the bottom of the eighth ... Seattle had prevailed in six straight meetings with Houston and lost for only the third time in 10 visits to Minute Maid Park this season.
09/01 22:35:12 ET