Pence Homer Helps Astros Get Out Of Canada With A Series Win

SB Nation Houston's coverage of the Astros-Blue Jays series from May 20th-22nd, 2011

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Melancon Gets In And Out Of A 9th-Inning Jam To Give Astros Series Win

Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Hunter Pence's two-run home run in the fifth inning lifted Houston over Toronto, 3-2, in the rubber match of their three-game series.

Brett Wallace knocked in the other run for the Astros, who won their first series since April 29-May 1 when they took two of three from Milwaukee.

Wandy Rodriguez (3-3) earned the win in six innings of work, allowing two runs on six hits and three walks while fanning six in Houston's fourth win in eleven games.

Kyle Drabek (3-3) went six innings and allowed three runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out three in Toronto's third loss in five games.

Wallace hit an RBI single in the third to score Pence and give Houston a 1-0 lead.

Juan Rivera then tied the game in the bottom half of the inning with a solo- shot to left.

Houston took the lead back for good in the fifth on a two-run homer by Pence. Angel Sanchez singled before Pence sent a ball into the bleachers in left- center field.

Toronto got within a run in the sixth when J.P. Arenciba led off the inning with a home run, but that would be the end of their offensive output.

The Blue Jays would threaten in the ninth, though, when Mark Melancon entered to pitch for Houston. He got two quick outs before allowing an infield single to Yunel Escobar and a double to Corey Patterson. Jose Bautista was then intentionally walked to load the bases, but Aaron Hill grounded out to end the game and give Melancon his third save.

Game Notes

With Bautista's intentional walk in the ninth, he has now reached base safely in 36 of his 38 games this year...Toronto fell to 7-3 in games Drabek has started this season...The teams combined to go 2-for-20 with runners in scoring position and left a combined 20 men on base.

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Wandy Will Try His Hand Against Blue Jays In Final Game Of Series

(Sports Network) - Toronto right fielder Jose Bautista looks to continue his weekend power surge this afternoon when the Blue Jays play the rubber match of their three-game series against Houston.

Last weekend at Minnesota, Bautista hit a combined five home runs and had seven RBI in a three-game sweep. On Friday against Houston, he went hitless in three at-bats, but kicked his bat into high gear yesterday with a pair of long balls, giving him a major league-best 18 on the season.

Bautista has now reached base safely in 35 of his 37 games this year. He's homered 15 times over his last 24 contests, ultimately raising his season average to a major league-best .364.

"I'm not surprised by the fact that I'm playing well," said Bautista, who is on pace to surpass the career-high 54 homers he hit last season. "Given what happened last year and knowing what I'm capable of doing, I expect to perform at a high level."

Yunel Escobar belted a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning, and the Blue Jays rallied from a four-run deficit for a 7-5 win yesterday.

Bautista blasted a three-run homer in the sixth and added a solo shot in the eighth.

Chris Johnson knocked in three runs for Houston, which will finish its first ever regular-season series in Toronto this afternoon with Wandy Rodriguez on the mound.

The southpaw is 1-0 over his last five starts and he's coming off throwing eight shutout innings in a no-decision at Atlanta on Tuesday. Rodriguez pitched once against the Blue Jays, getting the win in a six-inning effort.

Kyle Drabek gets the start this afternoon for the Blue Jays. The 23-year-old right-hander is coming off a strong outing against Detroit on Monday, when he limited the Tigers to one run in seven innings. Toronto is 7-2 in his last nine starts. This will be his first appearance against the Astros, a team his father, Doug, spent four seasons with during his major league career.

Houston, which is 4-1 all-time against Toronto, has lost six of its last seven games overall. The Astros haven't won a series since April 29-May 1 when they took two of three from Milwaukee. They've lost six straight series since that time.

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Myers Implodes As Astros Trade 4-0 Lead For 7-5 Loss

Final Score: Toronto 7, Houston 5

Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Yunel Escobar belted a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning, and the Toronto Blue Jays rallied from a four-run deficit to beat the Houston Astros, 7-5, at Rogers Centre.

Jose Bautista blasted a three-run homer in the sixth and added a solo shot in the eighth for the Blue Jays, who dropped the series opener on Friday. Bautista upped his home run total this season to an MLB-best 18.

Casey Janssen (1-0) relieved Toronto starter Brandon Morrow and tossed a scoreless frame to earn the win. Morrow allowed four runs on nine hits in six- plus innings.

Chris Johnson knocked in three runs for Houston, while Brett Myers (1-4) was tagged for six runs -- five earned -- on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Down 4-0, the Blue Jays trimmed their deficit to one on Bautista's drive to left field, then surged ahead in the seventh.

With one out, Eric Thames reached on a ground-rule double. After John McDonald flied out, Jose Molina grounded a single up the middle to plate the tying run. Escobar put Toronto up 6-4 by sending a 1-0 pitch from Myers over the left- field wall.

Jon Rauch came on to close the game for Toronto in the ninth, but was replaced by Octavio Dotel after surrendering a one-out RBI double to Angel Sanchez. Dotel struck out Hunter Pence and retired Carlos Lee on a grounder to third to record his first save of the season.

Houston started the game from where it had left off in the series opener with a two-run first inning. The Astros scored five runs in the final two frames in Friday's come-from-behind win and quickly loaded the bases in their first at- bat Saturday.

Brett Wallace opened the scoring with a sacrifice fly and Johnson, who hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the ninth on Friday, followed with an RBI single to right field.

In the third, the Astros strung together three consecutive two-out hits -- the last one a Johnson single -- to extend their lead to 3-0. Johnson added a sac fly two innings later.

Game Notes

The Blue Jays notched their first-ever win against Houston (1-4)...The Astros haven't won two straight games since winning three in a row April 30-May 3.

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Myers, Astros Continue Interleague Play Against Blue Jays

(Sports Network) - Without a victory since April 12, Brett Myers tries to get back on the winning track this afternoon when he takes the mound for the Astros against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

Myers, who is off to a shaky 1-3 start with a 4.79 ERA this season, posted his only victory against the Chicago Cubs. The right-hander, who is 0-3 over his last six appearances, is coming off a six-inning no-decision against Atlanta on Monday.

This will be Myers' third appearance against the Blue Jays, but his first start. The other two resulted in saves. Myers owns a 6-7 record and a 5.64 ERA in 23 career games (21 starts) against American League opponents.

Brandon Morrow goes after his second consecutive victory today for the Blue Jays. The righty lasted five innings in an 11-3 victory at Minnesota on Sunday. Morrow struck out eight batters in that game. He's given up just one home run in 26 innings this season.

Morrow has faced the Astros once, and that came in relief when he allowed four hits and three runs over just a third of an inning on June 17, 2007. Morrow was in his rookie season and pitching for Seattle.

Last night, Chris Johnson hit a two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning, and the Astros rallied for a 5-2 win. Hunter Pence ignited the comeback by stroking a game-tying two-run double in the eighth off Toronto reliever Jon Rauch, who had retired the first two batters with ease.

Frank Francisco (1-1) didn't fare as well in the ninth. After issuing a one- out walk to Matt Downs, Francisco served up a 3-2 fastball that Johnson launched over the left-field wall, giving Houston a 4-2 lead. Michael Bourn tacked on an RBI single later in the frame.

The Blue Jays went down quietly in the home half as Mark Melancon notched his second save of the season.

Bourn collected three hits for Houston, which snapped a five-game losing streak. Astros rookie Aneury Rodriguez gave up two runs and eight hits in his 5 1/3-inning start, while Johnson's blast made a winner out of Wilton Lopez (1-1).

Toronto starter Jo-Jo Reyes tossed seven scoreless innings, but remains in search of his first win since June 13, 2008 because of the bullpen, which entered play on Friday with an AL-best 2.72 earned run average. The left- hander has now gone 27 consecutive starts without recording a positive decision.

The Astros are making their first-ever trip to Toronto. They swept a three- game set from the Blue Jays at Minute Maid Park in 2005, the only other meeting between the two teams.

Toronto was 7-11 last season in interleague play, while the Astros finished a club-worst 3-12 versus the American League a year ago.

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Astros Snap Five Game Skid With Late Comeback

Toronto, ON (Sports Network) – Chris Johnson hit a two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning, and the Houston Astros rallied to beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-2, in the opener of a three-game interleague series at Rogers Centre.

Hunter Pence ignited the comeback by stroking a game-tying two-run double in the eighth off Toronto reliever Jon Rauch, who had retired the first two batters with ease.

Frank Francisco (1-1) didn’t fare as well in the ninth. After issuing a one- out walk to Matt Downs, Francisco served up a 3-2 fastball that Johnson launched over the left-field wall, giving Houston a 4-2 lead. Michael Bourn tacked on an RBI single later in the frame.

The Blue Jays went down quietly in the home half as Mark Melancon notched his second save of the season.

Bourn collected three hits for Houston, which snapped a five-game losing streak. Astros rookie Aneury Rodriguez gave up two runs and eight hits in his 5 1/3-inning start, while Johnson’s blast made a winner out of Wilton Lopez (1-1).

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Astros Begin Interleague Exhibition Series In Toronto

(Sports Network) - The Houston Astros pay their first-ever visit to Toronto this evening when they play the first of three interleague games against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

These teams have only met on one other occasion and that was back in 2005 when the Astros swept all three games from the Jays at Minute Maid Park.

Houston, though, comes into tonight's matchup riding a five-game losing streak after dropping a 4-2 decision to the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday. Hunter Pence and Humberto Quintero both had two hits for the Astros, who have dropped 10 of their last 12 games overall.

J.A. Happ (3-5) went six innings, allowing three runs on four hits, walked three and struck out eight.

"I felt good," Happ said. "The difference today was bad pitching with guys on base."

Heading to the hill tonight for Houston will be rookie Aneury Rodriguez, who has lost his last two starts. After giving up just one hit in five scoreless innings in his first big league start, Rodriguez has been pounded to the tune of 12 runs and 13 hits over his last two outings, spanning 10 innings.

It won't get any easier for the 23-year-old right-hander tonight, as he faces a Blue Jays team that has won seven of their last eight games. Toronto continued to impress on Thursday, as J.P. Arencibia hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh inning, powering the Blue Jays past the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-2.

Arencibia's blast made a winner of Ricky Romero (4-4), who evened his record by holding the Rays to one run on three hits and two walks over seven innings. He said the key to his success was simply getting the ball in the zone.

"I've been throwing a lot of strikes with my fastball and getting ahead, and I think that's been the biggest difference," Romero said.

Juan Rivera also homered for the Blue Jays, who had won six in a row prior to a 6-5 loss in the two-game series opener on Wednesday.

Hoping to keep the Jays momentum rolling tonight will be lefty Jo-Jo Reyes, who is 0-3 with a 4.75 ERA. Reyes did not get a decision on Saturday in Minnesota, but allowed three runs (two earned) and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings. He also struck out six and walked a batter.

Reyes has faced the Astros four times and is 1-1 with a 6.52 ERA against them.

Toronto was 7-11 last season in interleague play, while the Astros finished a club-worst 3-12 versus the American League a year ago.

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