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Mitch Haniger leads the way with a 4-for-5 day, and Mariners beat the Astros, roughing up Justin Verlander early and then holding on

HANIGERIt couldn't have started much better for the Seattle Mariners on Thursday at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

The Mariners started the game with a home run by Mitch Haniger, a triple by Denard Span, a double by Jean Segura and a single by Nelson Cruz — yes, the four elements of the cycle — and never looked back in beating the Astros 8-6.

The Mariners led 3-0 after the four-hitter onslaught, and then made it 6-0 after two innings on home runs by Denard Span (two-run HR) and Jean Segura — all against the great right-hander Justin Verlander, and after he had been called for a disputed balk.

The six-run explosion chased Verlander from the game; actually, Verlander chased himself from the game, being ejected after the Mariners' second-inning for arguing with an umpire from the dugout about the balk call.

The Astros pecked away at the lead, but the damage had been done by the Mariners (66-50).

Haniger broke out of a slump by going 4-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored. The first-inning homer was his first hit off Verlander and the Mariners' first leadoff homer of the season.

Span went 3-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Segura went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

James Paxton pitched six innings and gave up seven hits and four runs while striking out five and walking three in moving his record to 10-5.

Verlander gave up seven hits and six runs while striking out only two in two innings. He also had the balk.

Tony Kemp had three hits for Houston (73-43) and Tyler White went 2 for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored; White homered off Edwin Diaz in the ninth inning.

The second game of the four-game series is set for 5 p.m. Friday, with Mike Leake (8-7) pitching opposite Gerrit Cole (10-4).

It's the first time in franchise history that the Mariners have started the game with the cycle elements — home run, triple, double and single.

Verlander still needs one victory for 200 in his career.

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