Astros unable to find spark behind Fiers

Astros unable to find spark behind Fiers

HOUSTON -- After relying exclusively on solo home runs in the first three games of their series against the Astros at Minute Maid Park, the Blue Jays eked out some runs in a 4-1 win in the finale Thursday night.

Devon Travis scored on Josh Donaldson's RBI groundout in the first inning, and Russell Martin reached on an infield single and scored on a wild pitch from Mike Fiers in the fifth to back a quality outing from lefty J.A. Happ, who gave up one run and four hits in six innings to become the American League's first 15-game winner. Travis added an RBI single in the eighth,and Edwin Encarnacion homered in the ninth off James Hoyt.

"It's absolutely incredible ... to score 10 runs in a series and to come out with three of four says something special about our pitching," said Travis, whose team pulled even with Baltimore for first place in the AL East. "They've been incredible all year and it's just a pleasure to play behind them."

Encarnacion's 30th homer

Encarnacion hits 30-HR mark for 5th straight year

The reeling Astros, who have lost eight of 10 games to fall 6 1/2 games behind the Rangers in the AL West, managed a run in the fifth on an RBI double by Tyler White. Houston has scored seven runs in its last six games and hasn't scored more than two runs in a game since Friday's loss at Detroit.

"We're searching for solutions," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We're a better offense than this. And sometimes you go in a few ruts individually and sometimes you go through it collectively, and right now the collectively part is pretty painful. You look at the other side and I know Toronto's a good offense and you hold them to 10 runs in a four-game series and you feel good about it, but we didn't score near enough to split the series or win the series."

Osuna notches the save

The 6-4-3: Toronto was clinging to a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning when Astros cleanup hitter Carlos Correa stepped to the plate with runners on the corners and one out. Happ seemed to be in trouble against one of the league's top young players, but he managed to escape the jam by inducing a double-play grounder to shortstop. The throw to Travis at second base was a little low, but Justin Smoak managed to dig the ball out of the dirt as the Blue Jays got Correa at first base by an inch or two.

"I thought he started laboring in that sixth inning, but he got that big ground-ball double play," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "That's kind of what he's turned into: a guy that can get ground balls. In the past, he couldn't really do that anymore, he was looking for a strikeout or a popup."

Happ escapes trouble

Nice night for the Great White: White started the season hot for the Astros, earning AL Player of the Week honors in early April, but has struggled mightily since then, at one point getting demoted to Triple-A Fresno after batting .211 in 53 games with Houston. The Astros' offense was lacking Thursday, but White put together solid showing, notching a single and an RBI double in three at-bats. It was White's first multi-hit game since May 30.

"Just going up [to the plate], trying to be confident," White said. "Just [doing] what I did when I went down, take that here and be the hitter I know I can be." More >

White's RBI double

Starting early: Travis was installed as Toronto's leadoff hitter on Wednesday, and the following night he came through with a leadoff double to the gap in left-center field. He advanced to third on a deep fly ball to center by Jose Bautista and scored on a grounder by Donaldson. Travis was put into the leadoff spot because Gibbons wanted to get more runners on base for the heart of his batting order. It worked out, and Travis also came through with an RBI single in the eighth.

"We definitely have a lineup there in the middle that any time the ball can leave the yard. It's up to me and a few of the other guys just to do our best job of getting on base," Travis said. "Whether it's advancing to the next base via wild pitch or taking the extra base on a single, it's something we have to take a lot of pride in for the big guys."

Donaldson's RBI groundout

Can't convert: For the second night in a row, Jose Altuve and Correa had a runner in scoring position but were unable to muster a key hit to tie the game. Trailing 2-1, George Springer and Alex Bregman led off the sixth with a walk and single, respectively, but Altuve flied out on a full count to center field. Correa then grounded into the 6-4-3 double play with Springer on third to end the inning.

"It's been tough," Correa said. "It's been really hard to get going. Obviously, we have not been able to score runs early in the game or late in the game."

Hinch on 4-1 loss to Blue Jays

"I told [Marcus] Stroman he started it off with that great game he had, and we tried to follow suit." -- Happ, on a pitching staff that in the four-game series walked two and allowed five runs

• The Astros reached a franchise record with 61 strikeouts by their pitchers in a series. The 61 strikeouts also set a Major League record for a four-game series.

• Travis went 3-for-4 to pick up the eighth three-hit game of his career. That's tied for the third most in franchise history for a player's first 116 games. Bob Bailor owns the Toronto record with 14 three-hit games under those same guidelines from 1975-77.

Travis' RBI single

Martin catches dead ball off roof

Gibbons won his challenge in the top of the eighth inning. With one out, Kevin Pillar took off for third base on an attempted steal but he was called out by umpire Bill Miller. Gibbons asked for a review and the call on the field was overturned.

Pillar safe after great slide

Pillar uses amazing slide to avoid tag

Blue Jays: Left-hander Francisco Liriano (6-11, 5.46 ERA) will make his Blue Jays debut when Toronto opens a three-game series against the Royals on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium. Liriano has walked 5.5 batters per nine innings this season, but he will try to turn things around with his new team after being reunited with Martin at catcher. First pitch is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. ET.

Astros: The Astros open a three-game series against the AL West-leading Rangers at 7:10 p.m. CT Friday at Minute Maid Park, sending lefty Dallas Keuchel (6-11, 4.86 ERA) to the mound. The Rangers have won nine of 10 from Houston this year and have opened up a 6 1/2-game lead in the AL West.

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Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.