HOUSTON — Gerrit Cole celebrated his 29th birthday by allowing one hit with 15 strikeouts in a season-high eight innings, and the Houston Astros routed Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners 21-1 on Sunday to complete a four-game sweep.
Cole (16-5) won his 12th straight decision and joined Pedro Martinez as the only pitchers in major league history with 14 or more strikeouts in three straight games. Cole leads the major league with a career-high 281 strikeouts, and his 2.73 ERA in second in the AL behind the 2.52 for teammate Justin Verlander.
Chris Devenski struck out two in a perfect ninth, finishing a series in which Houston outscored the Mariners 41-15.
Jake Marisnick and George Springer homered, and rookie Yordan Alvarez had six RBIs and hit three of Houston’s team-record 11 doubles. The Astros are 16-1 against Seattle this year, winning 11 in a row.
Hernandez (1-6) tied his career high, allowing 11 runs. He lasted just two-plus innings and gave up seven hits.
With runners at second and third and two outs in the second, shortstop Dee Gordon couldn’t handle Martin Maldonado‘s grounder, allowing two runs to score on the error. Marisnick sent Hernandez’s next pitch into the left-field seats for his 10th homer and a 4-0 lead.
Seattle’s day got even worse during a nine-run third that included six doubles, including a pair by Alvarez that drove in three runs. Aledmys Diaz, Kyle Tucker and Maldonado also doubled in runs off Hernandez, who slumped his shoulders and shook his head as he watched Maldonado’s ball skip into the outfield on his final pitch. Hernandez’s face was expressionless as he slowly walked off the field.
All nine Astros starters scored a run in the first three innings for the first time since June 12, 2015 — also a game Hernandez started.
Erik Swanson allowed a two-run homer to Springer, who returned after a concussion that caused him to miss three games.
Mariners: OF Jake Fraley sat out on Sunday after leaving Saturday night’s game with a sprained thumb. Manager Scott Servais said X-rays were negative but that Fraley would have an MRI on Monday to further assess the injury.
Astros: 1B Yuli Gurriel was out of the lineup for a second straight game with a sore left hamstring but was doing better on Sunday, and manager AJ Hinch said Gurriel should return Tuesday or Wednesday.
Mariners: Seattle is off on Monday before LH Justus Sheffield (0-1, 5.51 ERA) starts the opener of a three game series against Cincinnati on Tuesday. Sheffield scattered five hits over five scoreless innings in his last start but did not factor in the decision in Seattle’s 5-1 loss to the Cubs.
Astros: RHP Zack Greinke (14-5, 3.09) will start for Houston on Monday in the opener of a four-game series against Oakland. Greinke lost his first decision since being traded from the Diamondbacks in his last start after yielding four runs and eight hits over six innings of a 4-2 loss to Milwaukee.