The Toronto Blue Jays take aim at their first series win since early July as they host the Houston Astros in the final chapter of a four- game set at Rogers Centre.
After Houston lost the first two games of the series, Chris Carter clubbed a three-run home run as part of a four-run first, and the Astros held off Toronto, 8-6, on Saturday to ensure there would be no sweep. Jason Castro added an RBI single in the early outburst, while Justin Maxwell and Matt Dominguez stroked back-to-back homers in the fourth to help the Astros snap a three-game skid.
The Astros managed to tally eight runs on eight hits, but also fanned a total of 14 times. Houston's bullpen snapped a 10-game streak of allowing at least one run as Jose Veras held the Blue Jays scoreless for the final 1 2/3 innings to notch his 19th save of the campaign.
Houston will try to even the series as it sends prospect Jarred Cosart to the hill. The 23-year old rookie pitched eight scoreless innings in his MLB debut on July 12 at Tampa Bay to collect his first career win. Cosart was very good in his second appearance as well as he surrendered only one earned run over seven innings versus Oakland on Tuesday to improve to 2-0. The initial thrill of playing in the big leagues played a factor in his first home appearance.
"My stuff wasn't as good for me today early in the game," Cosart said. "I was kind of out of sync and couldn't feel any part of my body in the first inning. There was a lot of pressure, no matter what anyone says, pitching in front of 30-something thousand."
Todd Redmond will take the hill for Toronto. The right-hander has been efficient since being promoted to the MLB earlier this month, not allowing more than three runs in any of his four starts. Redmond took a no-decision on Tuesday after a season-long 5 2/3 innings in which he allowed three earned runs.
Toronto had a solid performance offensively in Saturday's loss, just not enough to overcome Josh Johnson's poor showing. Jose Bautista belted a three-run homer, Mark DeRosa and Colby Rasmus each hit a solo shot, and Edwin Encarnacion went 4-for-4 with an RBI. Encarnacion is 8-for-10 with two home runs and seven RBI through the first three games of the series.
After hitting safely in six of his first seven at-bats in the series, Jose Reyes went 1-for-4 with a strikeout in Saturday's loss.
The Astros won five of the first six games played by the two franchises, including a three-game sweep in Houston in 2005 and two of three in Toronto in 2011.
Houston has the worst record in baseball at 35-68, which includes a 17-31 mark in road games. Toronto is in last place in the AL East at 47-56 and is 27-28 at home.