After totaling four runs over their final two at-bats to turn a 3-2 lead into a four-run advantage in the middle of the ninth inning on Sunday, the Houston Astros appeared set to cruise to their sixth win in seven games in the finale of their three-city, nine-game trip.

But before the Astros could return to Houston to open a six-game homestand starting with a three-game set against the Seattle Mariners on Monday night, things went sideways in the bottom of the ninth before the Astros escaped with a 7-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

Astros closer Ryan Pressly recorded two quick outs but then was ejected by plate umpire Vic Carapazza after questioning a warning from Carapazza when he threw inside to Michael A. Taylor.

Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez, who hit his 16th home run as part of his second three-hit game of the series, was hit by a pitch in the top of the ninth to prompt the warning.

“(Carapazza said) he thought I was doing it intentionally,” Pressly said. “I didn’t know that he could read my mind. That’s what set me off, and then he threw me out for asking why you’re warning me.”

Said Astros manager Dusty Baker: “They (the umpires) said they were doing their job. I think they’re overdoing their job.”

The Royals scored once in the bottom of the ninth.

Right-hander Cristian Javier (3-2, 2.41 ERA) has the starting assignment for Houston on Monday. All five of his decisions have come in his past six starts.

Javier is 3-0 with an ERA of 0.40 over six career appearances (three starts) against the Mariners. He threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings against them in a 4-0 home victory on May 3, allowing two hits and two walks with four strikeouts.

Left-hander Robbie Ray (4-6, 4.93) will start the series opener for the Mariners. He is 0-3 with a 5.82 ERA over his last three starts. Ray has surrendered at least four earned runs in four of his last six starts and has logged seven innings only once this season, in his Mariners debut against Minnesota on April 8.

Ray is 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA in six career starts against the Astros, his last coming while with the Arizona Diamondbacks when he allowed six runs on six hits, including three home runs, and two walks with six strikeouts over five innings in his team’s 14-7 victory on Aug. 5, 2020.

Seattle earned its third consecutive series victory by beating the Texas Rangers 6-5 in 10 innings Sunday. The Mariners scored three runs in the top of the ninth to pull even before Abraham Toro scored on a Brock Burke wild pitch in the 10th. The Mariners erased the 5-2 deficit in the ninth on a Ty France solo home run and a two-run double by Eugenio Suarez.

“We just kept the line moving there and got some big hits,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “That’s what it takes to win these games on the road.”

And Suarez said the Mariners are capable of such heroics.

“Like I always tell the boys,” Suarez said, “‘Hey, no matter what situation we are in, we’ve got to keep the good vibes only.’ This game is so hard, and we need to make it simple and enjoy the game. It’s a long season. We’ve got a really good team, and we’ve got to trust in what we can do. This series, we did it.”

The Mariners started their run of series successes by taking two of three from the Astros at home May 27-29, then won road series against the Baltimore Orioles and Rangers. They’ll conclude their nine-game trip with the three-game set in Houston.

–Field Level Media