SEATTLE (AP) — It isn't the big hits he gave up that Danny Farquhar will remember about his difficult ninth inning. It's the two walks that started the problems.
Farquhar blew a one-run lead and gave up four runs in the ninth inning as the Houston Astros rallied to beat the Seattle Mariners 6-4 on Monday night in front of the smallest crowd in Safeco Field history.
Farquhar (0-3) walked Marc Krauss and Carlos Corporan with one out, and Jimmy Paredes' run-scoring single tied the game at 3. Jonathan Villar then gave Houston a two-run lead with his hit to center.
"Without those walks those two hits mean nothing," Farquhar said. "Putting those guys on base is pretty much the game right there."
Farquhar said he came out in the ninth with the Mariners leading 3-2 and tried too hard to stay away from the middle of the plate, instead of trusting his stuff.
"I went about things the wrong way today," he said.
It was the fourth blown save of the season for Farquhar, but only his second in the closer role.
"It's going to be hard to sleep tonight," Farquhar said. "But it's the same thing as usual, whether you pitch good or pitch bad, learn from your mistakes. ... There's nothing you can do — if you dwell on it you'll drive yourself nuts."
Abraham Almonte hit his first major league homer, a two-run shot in the seventh inning, to give the Mariners a 3-2 lead and Seattle reliever Charlie Furbush got out of a jam in the eighth, but in the ninth the Astros broke through.
Houston's fourth run in the ninth came in bizarre fashion. With runners on second and third and one out, Trevor Crowe fouled out to first baseman Justin Smoak, but Smoak's throw to the plate hit Crowe crouched in foul territory and bounced away, allowing Villar to score.
"I've seen a lot of crazy things, but not that I recall, something like that," Wedge said. "They said it wasn't intentional."
Kevin Chapman (1-1) pitched a scoreless eighth to earn the win, and Josh Fields pitched the ninth for his fourth save in five chances despite giving up a solo homer to Brad Miller.
The announced attendance of 9,808 was 10 fewer than the previous low at the 14-year-old park, set April 29 against the Orioles. Before this season, the previous low was 11,352 — a mark set April 18, 2012, against Cleveland. This year, the Mariners have drawn fewer than that number five times.
Seattle starter Taijuan Walker ended his brief inaugural major league season with a no-decision despite striking out eight over five innings and retiring the final nine batters he faced. The Mariners said leading up to the game it would be Walker's final appearance since he had thrown 151 1-3 inning between his minor and major league starts going into Monday's outing.
"I feel good. I'm a little tired, but I thought I could keep pitching," Walker said. "But I understand why they shut me down. I'm young and haven't thrown this many innings before."
Two of his three starts in the majors have been against Houston. Walker picked up the win in his debut on Aug. 30, allowing one run on two hits, but this time the Astros picked up a pair of runs off five hits. Paredes drove in the first with a sacrifice fly in the second, and Jose Altuve and Crowe opened the third with back-to-back doubles to give the Astros a 2-1 lead.
Seattle's pitchers retired the next 15 batters but Carter Capps got into a jam in the eighth before Furbush bailed him out. Furbush came on with one out, runners on second and third, and the Mariners clinging to their 3-2 lead. He struck out pinch-hitter Brandon Laird and got Matt Dominguez to ground out to preserve the lead.
Seattle's lone run against Houston starter Jarred Cosart came in the first inning on a throwing error by Villar at shortstop. Almonte then set up the late rally with his one-out, two-run homer in the seventh.
NOTES: Seattle ace Felix Hernandez will not make his scheduled start on Wednesday, the second time his turn in the rotation has been pushed back due to soreness. "I guess you'd call it a minor oblique strain on the left side, if you had to put a label on it, but it was more just stiffness," manager Eric Wedge said. Hernandez will throw from flat ground at the end of the week when the team travels to St. Louis.