AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) – Justin Verlander struck out 10 over seven innings in his first home start for Houston, Derek Fisher and Marwin Gonzalez homered in a big fifth inning and the Astros clinched the American League West with a 7-1 win over the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.
George Springer and Carlos Correa also homered for the Astros, who won their first division title since 2001 and seventh overall. The Astros become the first team in major league history to win titles in three divisions after previously winning the NL West and NL Central.
Houston has reached the postseason three times as a wild-card team since winning last winning its division in 2001 with a team that included Seattle manager Scott Servais. The Astros will return to the playoffs for the second time in three seasons after ending a 10-year postseason drought with their trip in 2015.
Verlander (13-8) retired his first seven batters before Ben Gamel homered into the right-center bullpen in the third. He allowed just two singles after that to improve to 3-0 since he was acquired from Detroit on Aug. 31. Verlander walked one and raised his strikeout total with Houston to 26 in three games.
Houston had trouble stringing hits together until the fifth inning, when Yuli Gurriel singled and Fisher homered to straightaway center off Andrew Moore (1-4) for a 2-1 lead.
Springer singled and Moore got two outs before being replaced by James Pazos. Gonzalez sent his fourth pitch off the wall in left field for his 22nd home run to make it 4-1.
Moore allowed three runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings. He is 0-4 in seven starts and two relief appearances since June 22.
Springer hit his 32nd homer, a solo shot in the seventh off Emilio Pagan. Correa made it 7-1 later in the inning with a two-run homer.
Astros: RHP Lance McCullers will not return to the rotation on Tuesday and will instead throw another bullpen in a couple of days before the team decides when he will pitch again.
Mariners: RHP Mike Leake (3-0, 2.41 ERA) pitches in the opener of a series against Texas on Tuesday.
Astros: RHP Collin McHugh (2-2, 3.61) is scheduled to start against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday. McHugh left after three innings in his last start because of a problem with his fingernail.
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