HOUSTON (AP) Luis Garcia tied a career high with nine strikeouts in seven shutout innings, Jeremy Peña capped a six-run eighth with a three-run homer and the Houston Astros defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 8-1 on Wednesday night.
Mauricio Dubón extended his career-long hitting streak to 14 games with a single in the eighth that started Houston’s two-out rally. Alex Bregman singled, and Yordan Alvarez walked before José Abreu hit a two-run single. Kyle Tucker followed with an RBI single before Peña launched his third home run of the season into the Crawford Boxes.
Abreu, who the Astros signed in the offseason, had two hits after entering the game 3 for 20 in the first five games of Houston’s homestand. Houston manager Dusty Baker called his single to keep the inning going “huge."
“I hadn’t driven in a couple runs in a couple games, but I’m here trying to work every day,” Abreu said in Spanish through a translator. “That’s what we’re here to do.”
Jake Meyers hit a two-out, two-run double in the second to give Houston a 2-0 lead.
Garcia (1-2) scattered two hits and walked one. He lowered his ERA from 7.71 to 5.14.
The right-hander retired 11 of the first 12 batters he faced. He struck out six of the first seven batters.
“Garcia was excellent,” Baker said. “He minimized his pitches. Him and (Martín Maldonado) work good together. It was much needed for us. That’s our first series win at home. That was big.”
Garcia had allowed at least three runs in each of his first three starts while going no more than five innings in any of them.
After Garcia exited, the Blue Jays jumped on Rafael Montero in the eighth with a single by Alejandro Kirk and RBI double from Whit Merrifield before Kevin Kiermaier and Nathan Lukes walked to load the bases and end Montero’s night.
Bryan Abreu, however, ended the threat, inducing a George Springer lineout before striking out Bo Bichette and getting a flyout to center from Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
“Eighth inning, you load the bases with the top of the order (due up),” Toronto manager John Schneider said. “It’s the guys you want up there and just didn’t push one across. That and kind of snowballing there in the bottom of the eighth against Zach (Pop) and Adam (Cimber). That’s the difference.”
Baker said he was trying to stay away from Bryan Abreu since he pitched Tuesday, but he came up big in the situation.
“He was a guy that if anyone could get out of trouble with the stuff, it was him,” Baker said.
José Berríos (1-3) surrendered two runs on three hits with three strikeouts in seven innings. Berríos pitched well for a second straight outing after allowing 14 runs over his first two starts.
Berríos said he liked the way he attacked hitters with his fastball and breaking ball because he was able to get strikes with the fastball and weak contact with the breaking ball.
Astros: RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (right elbow strain) threw off flat ground again on Wednesday.
PITCH CLOCK VIOLATIONS
Guerrero was called out on strikes in the first inning for a pitch clock violation. Merrifield was also issued a pitch clock violation in the fifth for the second strike of the at-bat. Bichette was issued a pitch clock violation to start his at-bat in the eighth.
“It seemed like it was going quick,” Schneider said. “I’m not accusing or anything. It was on time. We just haven’t had that in awhile, so it’s good for us to lock in going forward.”
Blue Jays: Following an off day on Thursday, the Blue Jays will take on the Yankees in New York on Friday in the first of a three-game series. The starting pitchers for Friday’s game had not yet been announced.
Astros: After an off day Thursday, the Astros start a three-game series in Atlanta against the Braves on Friday, with RHP Hunter Brown (2-0, 1.93 ERA) taking the mound opposite RHP Bryce Elder (2-0, 1.53 ERA).
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