HOUSTON – Kyle Tucker hit a three-run homer and tied a career high with four RBIs as the Houston Astros built a big lead early and held on for a 7-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.
Jose Altuve added a solo homer for the Astros to help them win the series 2-1.
Tucker’s homer highlighted a four-run fourth inning that extended the lead to 7-0. In a tough season where he’s hitting just .188, Tucker hopes his big game can help turn things around.
“I’ve just got to keep working and grinding,” he said. “I’m just going to try to build off today.”
Rowdy Tellez sent a 69-mph curveball from Zack Greinke into the second deck in right field with no outs in the fifth for the first of five straight hits for the Blue Jays. Reese McGuire and Marcus Semien followed with singles before a double to centre field by Bo Bichette scored them both to cut the lead to 7-3.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit an RBI single to get the Blue Jays within 3 and chase Greinke.
Bryan Abreu (2-1) took over and retired the next three batters for the win as Houston’s bullpen allowed just two singles the rest of the way to secure the victory. Ryan Pressly struck out two in the ninth for his sixth save.
Manager Dusty Baker raved about the work of his relievers.
“They did a great job,” he said. “They were throwing strikes. If they’re throwing quality strikes then you’ve got a chance… when your bullpen’s dealing you feel comfortable, confident and the whole team feels good.”
Blue Jays starter rookie Nate Pearson (0-1) allowed four hits and was done in by a career-high five walks in his first start this season and the fifth of his MLB career. The organization’s top prospect, Pearson gave up three runs in just 2 1/3 innings.
“I just felt like I couldn’t get into a groove,” he said. “I had a solid first inning but the walks in the second and third innings are what got me. I’ll figure it out.”
Pearson walked Tucker and Robel Garcia with no outs in the second before Altuve singled to load the bases with two outs. Michael Brantley drew a walk to put Houston up 1-0.
There was one out in the third when Pearson walked Yuli Gurriel. Tucker followed with a triple to the corner of right field that made it 2-0. Garcia then singled on a grounder to right field to send another run home and chase Pearson.
Altuve opened Houston’s fourth with an opposite field shot off Joel Payamps to the seats in right field to make it 4-0. There were two on and two out in the inning when Tucker homered to the second deck in right field.
Greinke yielded nine hits and four runs without a walk in four-plus innings. He said his biggest problem right now is fastball control.
“I was never cruising,” he said. “I wasn’t making my pitches good and it just continued in the fifth inning. I just couldn’t throw pitches where I wanted to when I needed to and I gave up some hits that last inning.”
Blue Jays: Reliever Rafael Dolis was placed on the 10-day injured list with a strained right calf on Sunday, retroactive to Saturday.
Astros: RHP Jake Odorizzi, who has been out since April 25 with a strained muscle in his throwing arm, threw 40 pitches in two simulated innings on Saturday and will throw live batting practice soon before going on a rehabilitation assignment. … RHP Enoli Paredes (right side soreness) made his second rehabilitation appearance for Double-A Corpus Christi on Saturday night, striking out five in two scoreless innings.
The mothers of Altuve, Alex Bregman, Gurriel and Jason Castro simultaneously threw out first pitches before the game to their sons. The group gathered at home plate to pose for pictures after the pitches, and Gurriel’s brother Lourdes Gurriel Jr, who plays for the Blue Jays, dashed onto the field to join Yuli and his mother Olga Castillo for the pictures.
Castillo wore a jersey that was half Astros colours and half Blue Jays colours. At first Yuli stood on the blue side and Lourdes was on the orange side, but Lourdes noticed they weren’t on the proper sides and made them switch.
Blue Jays: Toronto is off on Monday and hasn’t announced its rotation for a three-game series at Atlanta which starts on Tuesday night.
Astros: Right-hander Luis García will start for Houston on Monday night in the opener of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels.
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