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Houston at Toronto

Venue: Rogers Centre
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The Toronto Blue Jays have finally strung together a couple of wins.

Josh Johnson would settle for one at this point.

The right-hander will try to avoid a career-worst fifth consecutive losing start Saturday when the Blue Jays and major league-worst Houston Astros continue their series north of the border.

After Mark Buehrle's two-hitter in Thursday's 4-0 series-opening victory helped Toronto (47-55) end a season-high seven-game skid, the Blue Jays equaled a team record with 12 extra-base hits in Friday's 12-6 victory.

Edwin Encarnacion hit two of the club's five homers, a solo shot and a grand slam in the eight-run seventh. The only other Blue Jay to homer twice in one inning was Joe Carter on Oct. 3, 1993, against Baltimore.

"I don't think you can get any better than that,'' manager John Gibbons said after Toronto won back-to-back games for the first time since a franchise record-tying 11-game surge June 11-23. "He's having another great year (with 28 home runs).''

Johnson (1-6, 5.66 ERA) is not. He's 0-4 with a 7.71 ERA in five starts since defeating the Orioles on June 23 after lasting just two-plus innings in Monday's 14-5 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, allowing five runs and seven hits and calling his performance "pitiful."

"You feel for the guy because he's competing but it just hasn't happened,'' Gibbons said.

Johnson, who also lost four consecutive starts Aug. 9-25 while with the Marlins, is 0-2 with a 4.84 ERA in four career starts versus Houston.

He'll face an Astros team that's dropped 19 of 23 overall and 15 of 19 on the road.

Houston (34-68) will try to get back on track with Dallas Keuchel (4-5, 4.42) going for his first win in six starts. The left-hander was in position to pick up a victory Monday, exiting with a 3-1 lead in the sixth inning, but the bullpen faltered again in a 4-3 loss.

The Astros have blown 15 saves and their relief corps has been tagged for a major league-high 64 homers - 22 more than anyone else in baseball.

"It doesn't matter about what the other team is going to do," manager Bo Porter said. "We have to do a better job of making quality pitches in those situations.''

One positive for Houston heading into the weekend is the play of Marc Krauss, who went 2 for 4 with a homer and four RBIs on Friday. The rookie left fielder had four RBIs in his first 20 games since getting called up June 21 when Trevor Crowe (shoulder) went on the disabled list.

Krauss could get more playing time with J.D. Martinez (sprained left wrist) being placed on the disabled list after getting injured Friday. The club called up center fielder Robbie Grossman to take Martinez's spot.

Jose Reyes is swinging one of the hottest bats for the Blue Jays since the All-Star break. Reyes is hitting .394 during that eight-game stretch with two homers, four doubles and seven RBIs after reaching safely five times and coming up a triple shy of the cycle Friday.

Colby Rasmus' 4-for-5 effort, meanwhile, lifted his average to .393 since the break.

Toronto has won three of four from Houston since losing the first four matchups between these clubs.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
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Probable Starters

Dallas Keuchel, LHP
2013 stats
95.2 Innings Pitched 68.1
4-5 Wins-Losses 1-6
4.42 Earned Run Average 5.66
32 Walks 24
74 Strikeouts 69
94 Pitches Per Start 93
Career vs. opponent
- Innings Pitched 24.0
--- Wins-Losses 0-3
- Earned Run Average 4.88

Josh Johnson, RHP
Standings
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Houston4th AL West7092.432283-7 L 2
Toronto3rd AL East8379.512136-4 L 1
BATTER VS. PITCHER (Career)
vs Josh Johnson
PlayerABHHRBBSOAVG
Altuve300000
Ambriz000000
Barnes000000
Bedard000000
Blackley000000
 
BATTER VS. PITCHER (Career)
vs Dallas Keuchel
PlayerABHHRBBSOAVG
Bautista000000
Bonifacio000000
Buehrle000000
Cabrera000000
Cecil000000
 
Injuries
Houston
PlayerInjury
M. AlbersShoulder
J. CisneroElbow
J. CrainBiceps, calf
D. DownsOblique
G. SpringerKnee, quadriceps
J. ZeidFoot
Toronto
PlayerInjury
M. CabreraFinger
M. IzturisKnee
C. JenkinsHand
B. LawrieBack
 
Series Game Log
DateatResult/TimeWinnerLoser