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 lls to the outfield. A couple balls to the track that could have changed the game a little bit. He kept enticing us with fastbal

SEATTLE -- The Houston Astros playoff momentum was halted Sunday by a pitcher they had never faced -- and likely will have to face again.Ariel Miranda (5-1), a Cuban defector acquired by the Seattle Mariners in a July 31 trade with Baltimore, held the Astros to just three hits and two runs over his seven innings in Seattles 7-3 victory.Seth Smith powered up a pair of home runs and had four RBI in support as the Mariners moved ahead of the Astros in the congested wild-card race.Houston (78-71) is a half game behind both the Mariners (79-70) and Detroit in the race for the wild card spots.He (Miranda) has a good fastball and a good split finger-change thing that he throws, Astros manager A. J. Hinch said. Our guys hadnt seen a ton of him...he did a good job challenging us, just above the zone and we swung under today and hit a lot of pop-ups in the infield, a few balls to the outfield. A couple balls to the track that could have changed the game a little bit. He kept enticing us with fastballs.That enticement will continue in the final week of the season. The Mariners play another three-game set with he Astros in Houston, Sept. 26-28, and Miranda likely is on schedule to start that series final game.Mirandas seven innings was his longest outing in 10 starts with Seattle. He walked one and struck out eight.Heck of an outing, Mariners manager Scott Servais said. Hes on a heck of a roll. We certainly needed it. Hes gained so much confidence. You can certainly can see it.Miranda has won all four of his starts in September. He said, through an interpreter, its been a dream of mine (to be in a playoff chase) but never been there. Its really great to get there. Im happy with the work Ive been doing and happy to help the team.Smith had a solo shot in the third and a three-run blast in the fourth, both on 3-1 pitches from Doug Fister (12-12), who went just 3 2/3 innings.I was just trying to attack with my sinker; he put a couple good swings on balls -- clearly, Fister said. I just didnt execute today, thats what it comes down to. Balls down, balls up, all over the place. I let my team down.Smith had been 0-for-10 in his career against Fister but the eight-year veteran had a plan.Guys know what theyre doing when they are pitching and able to pitch to the corners, Smith said. You try to take the close ones, try to get into a good hitters count when they come after you.Youre constantly learning, how to approach at-bats, knowing what kind of swing you have going into a game, knowing what the pitcher is trying to do to you, Smith said. Over the course of a career you kind of fit the pieces a little better together.RECORD WHIFFSWith Jandel Gustaves strikeout of Shawn OMalley in the sixth, the Astros staff established a club record for strikeouts with 1,283. Theyve done it without even a 200-strikeout pitcher. For the most part we have a few guys who can spin their breaking balls when they need to, manager A.J. Hinch said. and the changeup is a big component of our pitching staff.SLOW START; FAST FINISHNori Aoki, who was sent to the minors twice this season to work on his offense, has found his batting eye this month. Entering the game, he was hitting .387 in September, fifth best in the American League. He had been hitting .255 overall to start the month. For his career, he is a .324 hitting in September, fourth best among active players. He had two hits Sunday.TRAINERS ROOMMariners: 1B Adam Lind had not played since Sept. 12 with a sprained finger in his right hand but was back in the lineup Sunday, missing five games.UP NEXTAstros: RHP Brad Peacock (0-0, 2.70) will make his third start, seventh appearance, in his effort to win his first game since 2014. Last time ou, Sept. 13, he was solid, going six innings and allowing just three hits and one run in a 3-2 loss to Texas. Now the Astros are counting on him to step up at the most critical stage of the season. He is 1-4 with a 4.97 ERA in nine career appearances against Oakland.Mariners: RHP Taijuan Walker (6-10, 4.28) is coming off his best starting effort of his career (59 starts). He allowed just three hits and no runs -- first career shutout -- in an 8-0 win over the L.A. Angels. He had a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings. He is 0-2 with a 3.66 ERA in three career starts against the Blue Jays but has not faced them this season. Rasmus Ristolainen Jersey . Batiste, who briefly signed with the Eskimos in 2006, has spent time with several NFL teams including the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins. Tim Horton Jersey . Ryan Garbutt had a goal and two assists as Dallas snapped a six-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night. . Wall made the comment in a speech to a Regina business crowd that included Lesnar. The U.S. wrestler and retired mixed martial artist says he was visiting his brothers farm in Saskatchewan and decided he wanted to hear what the premier had to say. Rick Martin Jersey . Jane Virtanen scored two, and Alex Roach and Elliott Peterson rounded out the offence for the Hitmen (40-15-6). Brady Brassart chipped in with three assists. Colton McCarthy scored twice, Brayden Point had a goal and two assists, and Jack Rodewald also scored for the Warriors (15-35-9), who were 2 for 5 on the power play. Justin Falk Jersey . Catch all the action on TSN2 at 11pm et/8pm pt. The nine-time Big 12 champion Jayhawks are positioning themselves for another title, as they have run out to a flawless 6-0 mark in conference play thus far. Doubters may have already written off Adelaide United, but captain Eugene Galekovic has backed his much-younger team to embrace the pressure of defending their A-League premiership-championship double.He just hopes they get going faster than last season, reasoning that fairytale endings dont often happen twice.The close-knit Reds are down several key players from Mays unlikely title triumph with Bruce Djite, Bruce Kamau, Craig Goodwin, Stefan Mauk and Pablo Sanchez all departing.Playmaker Marcelo Carrusca is also out for two months with a foot injury.In their place coach Guillermo Amor has signed mostly youngsters including Ben Garuccio, Ryan Kitto and Jesse Makarounas.Spanish striker Sergi Guardiola will fill the attacking void left by Djite, while Henrique and James Holland add more vital experience.Galekovic wasnt surprised the Reds are not as highly rated against two formidable-looking Melbourne sides and a much-strengthened Sydney FC.Were used to being written off, we got written off last year too ... you hear commennts that we recruited late, Galekovic told AAP.ddddddddddddIt is always tougher (after winning a title) but we want to go back to back.Good teams can win championships, but great teams do it two years in a row.The fringe Socceroos goalkeeper stressed that new players would need to gel quickly to ensure a better start than last season, when the winless Reds lagged dead last after eight rounds.Adelaide kick off their title defence on Sunday against Newcastle in a precursor to three tough games - a grand-final rematch with Western Sydney followed by clashes with Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City.Galekovic didnt expect the Jets to roll over at Hunter Stadium despite coach Mark Jones stepping into the role less than two weeks ago.If anything its going to make them stronger, he said.Theyve got a new coach to play for, so theyll all want to produce and show him what they can do to keep their spot. 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