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Benches cleared in 9th, Servais was dumped as Mariners beat Astros

HOUSTON (AP) — Astros reliever Héctor Neris threw a pitch against Mariners slugger Ty France, and Seattle manager Scott Servais led his team to a scrimmage at home plate. Both sides shoved and screamed – except for the cool-headed 21-year-old Julio Rodriguez, who wrapped Neris in his arms and pulled him safely away from the scuffle.

The star Mariners rookie wasn’t as protective when he entered the batting box moments later.

Rodriguez hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning after Servais was ejected for his role in a bench clearance fight, Cal Raleigh added a career-high four RBIs, and the Mariners beat Houston 7- 4 Monday evening.

Rodriguez remained calm during the tense ninth inning, when Neris pierced Ty France with a pitch, then let out his emotions with a vicious scream near first base after connecting.

“After this whole situation and to be able to deliver for a team like that…I was definitely excited,” he said. “I never really talk or shout during my circuits like that. But given the situation, I felt like I had to do it and somehow let all my emotions out.

The trouble started when with two outs in the ninth, when Neris plunged France into the back. Players and coaches on both sides began to chirp, and Servais led the way as Seattle’s bench emptied to face the Astros near home plate.

“All I know is our best hitters are there, there’s two out in the ninth and you throw the first pitch behind him,” Servais said. “It’s pretty obvious.”

Rodriguez kept Neris out of the scrum, while Servais and Houston manager Dusty Baker were at the center of the pushing and shoving, with Servais repeatedly pointing and shouting at the Astros’ first base coach, Omar Lopez.

Servais and Lopez were sent off, and both benches received warnings.

Rodríguez homered and JP Crawford walked before Neris was sent off after throwing a pitch behind Eugenio Suarez’s head. Baker was also automatically ejected due to the warning.

Baker denied that Neris intentionally threw at either player.

“The pitch behind France, in a one-point game, you’re not going to put anybody in, nobody throws it,” Baker said. “We don’t do that anyway. It was a series of bad events and I don’t want to talk too much about it because I’m already a little (upset).”

Neris also denied that his errant throws were on purpose and even France did not believe whoever hit him was intentional.

“The time was not right for it to be intentional,” France said. “So I don’t know if it wasn’t, but I don’t think it was.”

Servais was pleased with the poise Rodriguez displayed to give the Mariners some confidence with his home run.

“Some guys step in at those times,” he said. “You get the emotion and you get a little edge for you. This is a good thing.”

Raleigh’s three-run homer gave Seattle a 4-1 second-inning lead, but the Astros scored three late-inning runs to tie the game.

The game was still tied in the fourth when Adam Frazier doubled with no outs. The Mariners took the lead 5-4 when Frazier scored on a two-out single from Raleigh.

Mariners starter Robbie Ray (5-6) allowed eight hits and four runs — three earned — while walking three in five innings. Diego Castillo threw a scoreless ninth for his third save.

Houston starter Cristian Javier (3-3) struggled, allowing six hits and five runs in 3 2/3 innings after entering the game 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA in six career games , with three starts against the Mariners.

Jose Altuve, Kyle Tucker and Chas McCormick each hit a solo homer for the Astros, but they couldn’t do much else on offense, going 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.

The Mariners led early after an RBI brace from Crawford in the first inning.

Houston tied the game when Altuve sent Ray’s third pitch of the game into the left field seats. It was his sixth first home run this season, which ranks second in the majors behind George Springer of Toronto, who has seven. That gives him 175 career home runs, which puts him ahead of Springer in sole possession of fifth place on Houston’s all-time roster.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mariners: RHP Erik Swanson (right elbow inflammation) is expected to make another rehab appearance with High-A Everett before coming off the injured list to rejoin the team at their next homestand, which begins Friday.

HONORED

On the day Houston’s Yordan Alvarez and the Astros finalized a six-year, $115 million contract extension, the slugger was named AL Player of the Week.

Alvarez led the majors in hits (13), average (.565), strikes (1.217) and OPS (1.847) last week to win the award for the first time in his career. He had four home runs and eight RBIs.

NEXT

Houston’s Justin Verlander (6-2, 2.23 ERA) takes on Chris Flexen (2-6, 4.55) when the streak continues Tuesday night.

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