MLB Team Report - Seattle Mariners - INSIDE PITCH

HOUSTON -- After winning five of seven games and consecutive series against the Oakland Athletics and Texas Rangers to open the month, the Seattle Mariners are 0-3-1 over their last four series, badly damaging their playoff hopes.

Seattle dropped an 8-3 decision to the Houston Astros on Sunday and fell to 1 1/2 games behind the Royals for the second American League wild card spot. Oakland is a half-game ahead of Kansas City in the race for the first wild card.

For a lengthy spell this month, the Mariners appeared to have momentum, not to mention ample starting pitching, in their favor. However, with right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma slumping, their inconsistent offense became that much more of an issue.

"I don't think it's pressing," Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano said. "We are a team that has been like that. We'll win a few games in a row, and after that go and only get three or four hits."

In dropping the final two games of the three-game series against the Astros, the Mariners finished 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 runners overall.

Seattle's offense was middling all season, and it ranks 21st in batting average (.244), 27th in on-base percentage (.301) and 22nd in slugging percentage (.375). Even so, expectations changed given how the Mariners remained in the thick of the chase. Faltering now would be unseemly.

"Leaving spring training, if I'd have told you we'd have an opportunity to be in the wild-card hunt with a week left, would you take it?" Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "I think the answer would be yes. Is the cup half-empty or half-full? I choose to be very positive.

"We lost a tough series, but we're still in this thing, and I guarantee you there's a lot of teams that wish they were in our position right now."


MLB Team Report - Seattle Mariners - NOTES, QUOTES

RECORD: 83-72

STREAK: Lost two

NEXT: Mariners (LHP James Paxton, 6-3, 2.06) at Blue Jays (LHP J.A. Happ, 9-11, 4.35 ERA)


--RF Michael Saunders hit his seventh home run of the season, a two-run shot off Astros RHP Collin McHugh in the fifth inning. Saunders finished 2-for-3, recording his 17th multi-hit game and first since landing on the disabled list July 11. He is hitting .417 (5-for-12) against McHugh.

--1B Logan Morrison reached base safely with a walk and a single and finished 1-for-3. He is hitting .308 (45-for-146) with four home runs and 16 RBIs in his past 45 games, and he is batting .375 (33-for-88) in his career against the Astros.

--RHP Hisashi Iwakuma lasted just 4 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on six hits and three walks while striking out eight. Iwakuma failed to record a quality start in any of his four outings this month, and he has surrendered 18 earned runs over his past 17 1/3 innings.

--RHP Yoervis Medina surrendered a three-run home run to Astros CF Jake Marisnick in the seventh inning, allowing two inherited runners to score. Marisnick was the first batter Medina faced. Medina had allowed only 13 of 19 inherited runners to score entering Sunday, and he had a 1.88 ERA over his previous 46 appearances.