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TEX@SEA: Hernandez gives a strong six innings

The Astros are hoping a flip of the calendar will bring better luck. After getting swept in a two-game series at home by the Nationals, they finished April with a 9-19 record.

Houston will have to start its May schedule against Seattle ace Felix Hernandez when the teams open a three-game series Friday at Minute Maid Park.

Last week, the Astros nearly swept the Mariners at Safeco Field, taking the first two games. But in the series finale, Kyle Seager hit home runs in the seventh and ninth innings to help Seattle to a 5-3 comeback win. It snapped the Mariners' eight-game losing streak and sent the Astros into a spin, as Houston has lost five of its last seven games.

The Astros have let some winnable games slip away. They have blown four saves and are 0-4 when the game is tied after the eighth inning.

"It's early. We've got guys kind of finding their roles and kind of getting their feet underneath them a little bit," said catcher Jason Castro. "It's the first month. That's why we play for six [months] at a minimum. All we can do is keep plugging away and doing what we need to do to be prepared to get out here and compete."

The Astros competed well against Hernandez on April 21, sending him to his first loss of the season in a 7-2 road victory over the 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner. "King Felix" allowed seven hits, six runs (two earned) and a walk in seven innings.

Astros: Peacock ready
On Friday, Houston will hand the ball to Brad Peacock for his third start of the season. The first two came against Oakland. Peacock worked five innings in his previous start on April 25, and he gave up five runs (three earned) with five hits and six walks. He left the game with a 5-5 tie, but the A's wound up winning, 12-5.

Peacock has lasted five innings in both of his starts since taking the rotation spot of Lucas Harrell, who was designated for assignment. In those two starts, Peacock is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 10 innings, including nine walks, seven strikeouts and a 1.90 WHIP.

In Peacock's last start, he was done after five frames when his pitch count reached 92.

"Definitely fastball location, I was struggling all night with it," Peacock said. "Luckily, I had some offspeed to help me out. But I was at 90-something pitches through five innings, which isn't too good, so I just battled all night."

Mariners: Hernandez ready to bounce back
After Hernandez's rough start against the Astros, he went six innings, giving up five hits, three runs and three walks while picking up a no-decision in a 6-3 loss to the Rangers on Saturday. Hernandez also struck out four and walked three on 107 pitches, but he couldn't hold a 3-0 lead entering the fifth inning.

"They were swinging at the first pitch," Hernandez said. "I made a couple mistakes and they put good swings on it."

It was better than his previous outing against Houston, but it didn't meet Hernandez's standards after he got off to a 3-0 start to begin the season. Hernandez is 3-1 with a 2.40 ERA and has an incredible 47-7 K-BB ratio, but he hasn't won a start since April 11.

Worth noting
• The Astros are 2-1 against the Mariners despite their rough start to the regular season.

• Entering their game Thursday against the Yankees, the Mariners had played 21 of their first 25 games of the season against division opponents and 14 of their first 25 on the road. That ranks as the toughest schedule in the AL, according to baseballreference.com.

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