SEATTLE (AP) — Mariners reliever Danny Farquhar didn't miss by much, but it was more than enough for Chris Carter.
Carter drove in the go-ahead run with Houston's third solo homer, rookie Lance McCullers pitched effectively into the seventh inning and the Astros enhanced their position in the crowded AL playoff race with a 3-2 victory over Seattle on Monday night.
Carter snapped 2-all tie with two outs in the seventh, jumping on a first-pitch curveball from Farquhar (1-6) for his 23rd home run.
"It was a good idea — execution wasn't completely there," Farquhar said. "Ideally, you want that to be down and away. I threw it down and in. He put a good swing on it and hit it far."
George Springer and Evan Gattis homered early for Houston, which moved within 1 1/2 games of first-place Texas in the AL West and maintained its half-game lead over the Angels in the chase for the second wild card. The Rangers lost 7-4 at home to Detroit.
Carter, who had 37 homers last season, is hitting just .196 but is batting .396 with two doubles, six homers and 10 RBIs in 16 games since Aug. 28. He has homered in three straight games and five consecutive starts.
"I'm just trying to help the team out and try and get us to the playoffs and do what I can when I'm in there," Carter said. "I feel pretty good right now."
McCullers (6-7) allowed two runs and four hits in six-plus innings. He struck out seven and walked two, including a free pass to start the seventh.
Tony Sipp relieved and picked off pinch-runner James Jones, then retired five consecutive batters.
"The guy really doesn't have a good move," said Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon, whose team lost its sixth straight. "The kid was just a little anxious to do something positive. It ended up hurting us, but the fact is we only scored two runs. We've got to get our offense going again."
Oliver Perez struck out Kyle Seager to open the ninth. Luke Gregerson fanned Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano for his 30th save.
The Astros remained a half-game ahead of the Angels in the wild-card standings. Los Angeles beat Oakland 5-4.
Minnesota stayed 1 1/2 games behind Houston following a 4-2 win at Cleveland.
"We're chasing a team for the division title and we're being chased by guys for the wild card," McCullers said. "So, it was big to get this first win and hopefully build on this momentum. A good team win tonight."
Houston took a 2-0 lead in the first on a pair of solo homers off Roenis Elias, who allowed just one other hit over six innings.
"Our young starter pitched a whale of a ballgame," McClendon said. "Gave up two runs early and settled down the next five innings and did a great job. And then Danny left a curveball up and the rest is history."
With one out in the first, Springer lined a 2-1 pitch to center field for his 15th home run. Gattis also jumped on a 2-1 pitch for his team-leading 27th homer, a two-out drive to left.
Seattle answered with a run in the bottom half on a walk to Kyle Seager and consecutive two-out singles by Cano and Mark Trumbo.
Ketel Marte tied it at 2 in the sixth with a leadoff home run for the Mariners, his second.
Cruz, tied for the major league lead with 43 home runs, struck out in each of his four at-bats.
Elias (5-8, 3.89 ERA) is 1-1 with a 2.96 ERA and 29 strikeouts in five September starts. "He is settling down," McClendon said. "A lot more mature out there. He is slowing things down, even when it's tough. He made some nice pitches when he had to."
Mariners LHP James Paxton, who left his last start in the second inning with a torn fingernail, might not pitch again this season. "I would give that 50-50 chance," McClendon said. ... OF Stefen Romero, who sustained a severe shoulder bruise when he crashed into the wall last week, also might not play again this season, McClendon said.
Astros: RHP Mike Fiers (7-10, 3.66 ERA) is 2-1 with a 3.18 ERA in nine games (eight starts) since being acquired from Milwaukee on July 31.
Mariners: LHP Vidal Nuno (1-5, 3.69) makes another spot start, this time on short rest with Paxton out. Nuno, acquired in early June from Arizona, is 1-4 with a 4.10 ERA in 30 games with Seattle, including eight starts. In his last start on Friday, he gave up five runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings.