TORONTO (AP) José Berríos became the latest Blue Jays pitcher to turn in a strong start against the Houston Astros.
Brandon Belt had a tiebreaking RBI single, Berríos pitched six innings to win his third straight decision and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Houston Astros 3-2 on Thursday night.
Alejandro Kirk added an RBI double and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. reached base twice as the Blue Jays took three of four from the Astros and won the season series 4-3.
Houston lost its third straight, matching its longest slump of the season. The Astros also lost three straight from April 2-4 and again from May 6-8.
Toronto also won 3-2 Wednesday. Houston is 6-6 in one-run games.
“Last night was tough but this is tough, too,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said.
Houston slugger Yordan Alvarez left after one at-bat because of a sore right oblique. Alvarez grounded out to first base in the first and was replaced at DH by Corey Julks when his turn came up again in the third.
Berríos (6-4) allowed two runs and four hits, walked two and struck out one. Yimi Garcia worked the seventh, Erik Swanson pitched the eighth and Jordan Romano finished for his 17th save in 20 chances.
After Toronto’s Alek Manoah was chased before completing the first inning Monday, the Blue Jays recovered with dominant starts from Kevin Gausman and Chris Bassitt before Berríos wrapped up the finale.
“It starts and ends with starting pitching,” manager John Schneider said. “You look at Kev, Chris and José tonight, it puts you in a good spot.”
Toronto won its major league-leading 12th game when scoring three runs or fewer. The Blue Jays have won eight of 10 and 10 of 13. Toronto is 7-1 in June after going 11-17 in May.
“We’ve been hitting the ball better,” Kirk said through a translator. “Hopefully everything gets together so we can get on a roll.”
Alvarez said he first felt sore when hitting in the cage before the game, and felt pain again when he swung and missed at the first two pitches in his lone at bat.
“We’ll evaluate him tomorrow,” Baker said. “That’s a tough blow right there. We’ve just got to regroup and try to figure out how we’re going to win some ballgames and get through this.”
Julks went 1 for 2 with a walk and a strikeout.
Toronto’s victory denied Astros left-hander Framber Valdez a fourth consecutive winning start. Valdez (6-5) allowed three runs and four hits in five innings. He walked four and struck out five.
Houston took a 2-0 lead in the second. Alex Bregman led off with his ninth home run, and a second run scored when Jake Meyers grounded into a bases-loaded double play.
Toronto took advantage of a trio of walks by Valdez to take the lead with a three-run fifth. Valdez tried to turn a double play on Matt Chapman’s bases-loaded grounder, but Chapman was safe at first as Daulton Varsho scored. Kirk followed with an RBI double and Chapman scored on Belt’s single, but Kirk was thrown out at home plate to end the inning.
José Abreu and Chas McCormack hit back-to-back singles off Garcia in the seventh but Abreu was caught stealing after straying too far off the bag. Catcher Kirk threw behind Abreu, who was thrown out at third base.
“We lost because of me tonight,” Abreu said. “I take full responsibility.”
Jeremy Peña led off the eighth with a comebacker to the mound but didn’t run hard to first, allowing Guerrero to recover and tag the base after Swanson’s throw sailed high.
“The one time you don’t run is the one time he throws wild,” Baker said. “Like I said, we’ve got to regroup and just bust a little harder.”
Blue Jays: OF Kevin Kiermaier was hit on the left wrist by a pitch in the second. He stayed in to play defense in the third but was replaced by Varsho in the fourth. X-rays did not reveal a fracture.
BLUE JAY BASHER
In 41 career games against Toronto, Bregman is batting .304 (49-for-161) with 20 doubles, nine home runs, and 28 RBI.
Houston is 19-17 when facing opponents whose record is .500 or better.
Astros: RHP Cristian Javier (7-1, 2.84) starts Friday as Houston begins a three-game series at Cleveland. LHP Logan Allen (3-2, 2.76) goes for the Guardians.
Blue Jays: LHP Yusei Kikuchi (6-2, 4.40) starts Friday as Toronto opens a three-game series against Minnesota. RHP Sonny Gray (4-1, 2.15) starts for the Twins.
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