ASTROS TAKE THE SERIES!

Dubón has tiebreaking hit, Peña homers as Astros beat Blue Jays 5-3

Astros Jeremy Pena
Astros defeat Blue Jays 5-3. Photo by Jack Gorman/Getty Images.

Mauricio Dubón hit a tiebreaking single in the fifth inning, Jeremy Peña added a solo home run and the Houston Astros beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 on Thursday for their 12th win in 14 games.

"I feel like the team has good vibes right now,” Peña said. “Everyone is showing up with a job to do, which is show up, compete, and win the game. I feel like we’re all on the same page.”

Framber Valdez pitched six innings to win his third straight start as the Astros extended their team-record Fourth of July winning streak to seven.

Yordan Alvarez reached base four times and scored a run as Houston won the four-game series 3-1.

“Our goal is to finish this first half strong and playing our best,” Astros manager Joe Espada said. “I feel like we’re there right now. We came out here and we took care of business.”

The Blue Jays have lost 12 of 16.

“Got to pick yourself up and keep going,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said. "There’s no giving up, there’s no quitting."

Peña went 2 for 4 with a walk and scored twice. He extended Houston’s lead with a solo homer off Trevor Richards in the seventh inning, his seventh of the season. Peña also homered in Monday’s series opener.

Valdez (7-5) allowed three runs and nine hits. He walked two and struck out four.

“It started not his best but he settled down very nicely,” Espada said.

Tayler Scott pitched the seventh, Ryan Pressley worked the eighth and Josh Hader finished for his 14th save in 15 chances.

Both teams scored three runs in a first inning that produced eight hits and two walks.

Yainer Diaz opened the scoring with a bases-loaded groundout and Jon Singleton followed with a two-run single off Toronto right-hander Chris Bassitt.

Toronto answered with five hits against Valdez in the bottom half. Two runs scored on a bases-loaded single by Spencer Horwitz and Alejandro Kirk added an RBI double.

Peña hit a one-out single in the fifth, advanced on a groundout and scored on Dubón’s single to center.

Bassitt (7-7) allowed four runs and eight hits in five innings to lose for the first time since May 17 against Tampa Bay.

The Blue Jays used a walk and an infield single to put two runners on in the bottom of the fifth, but Astros third baseman Alex Bregman started an inning-ending double play on Danny Jansen’s grounder.

Houston turned five double plays Thursday. Bregman was involved in three, including an unassisted double play to end the first where he caught Ernie Clement’s liner and tagged Horwitz.

“I’ve been playing with him since 2022 and every day on defense he seems to amaze me,” Peña said of Bregman. “He makes plays that I don’t see people make.”

Toronto put the tying run at third base with one out in the sixth but Valdez finished his outing by getting Kirk and Clement to ground out.

The Blue Jays intentionally walked Alvarez to load the bases with two outs in the fourth. Diaz fouled out to end the inning.

“I tell you what, it’s tough to pitch to him right now,” Espada said of Alvarez. “I don’t blame Schneider for intentionally walking him. Right now he’s on fire.”

Alvarez was hit by pitches in the sixth and ninth innings.

ROSTER MOVES

Blue Jays: Jansen was activated off the paternity list and catcher Brian Serven was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: Shortstop Bo Bichette was scratched from the lineup because of a right forearm contusion. The two-time AL hit leader struck out on a pitch that hit him in the arm on Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Astros: Espada said RHP reliever Shawn Dubin will start Friday’s game at Minnesota. RHP Pablo López (8-6, 4.88 ERA) is scheduled for the Twins.

Blue Jays: RHP Kevin Gausman (6-7, 4.75 ERA) is scheduled to start Friday against Mariners RHP Luis Castillo (6-9, 3.87) in the opener of a three-game series at Seattle.

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Astros beat the Mariners 4-2. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a go-ahead two-run homer off former Houston reliever Ryne Stanek in the seventh inning, and the Astros beat the Seattle Mariners 4-2 on Saturday night to take sole possession of the AL West lead for the first time this year.

Stuck playing catchup through the first 3½ months of the season, Houston has won six of eight to climb into first place all alone.

Seattle lost its fifth straight and fell out of first place for the first time since May 11.

Meyers drove a 1-2 pitch from Stanek (6-3) to right-center field for his 11th homer. Stanek opened the inning by walking Jeremy Peña, and the homer by Meyers cost George Kirby the chance at a victory after he allowed one run in six innings.

Yainer Diaz added a solo homer in the eighth off reliever Trent Thornton that bounced off the top of the wall.

Julio Rodríguez snapped Seattle’s 14-inning scoreless drought when his two-run homer off Framber Valdez gave the Mariners a 2-1 lead in the sixth. It was his 11th of the season and Rodríguez nearly hit a second longball in the eighth off Ryan Pressly only to watch Trey Cabbage make a leaping catch at the wall in right field.

It was one of two terrific defensive plays by the Astros in the eighth as Joey Loperfido ended the inning with a diving grab of Mitch Garver’s drive into the left-field corner and saved one run from scoring.

Valdez pitched 5 2/3 innings. He allowed three hits, four walks and struck out six. Tayler Scott (7-3) got the final out of the sixth before Bryan Abreu, Pressly and Josh Hader closed out the final three innings. Hader earned his 20th save.

Kirby allowed four hits and struck out six. Houston’s only run off him came on Peña’s infield single that scored Alex Bregman in the fourth.

UNUSUAL STRIKEOUT

Houston slugger Yordan Alvarez struck out to end the first inning when he was called for a pitch-clock violation for not being ready in the box prior to a 3-2 delivery from Kirby.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHPs Justin Verlander (neck discomfort) and Luis Garcia (Tommy John surgery) threw bullpens. Verlander threw about 40 pitches with increased intensity, while Garcia threw 15 pitches. Both are expected to throw again sometime early next week. … C Victor Caratini (hip) was expected to catch for a second straight day at Double-A Corpus Christi.

UP NEXT

Astros: RHP Ronel Blanco (9-4, 2.56 ERA) has allowed three earned runs or fewer in seven straight starts, but lost to Texas in his last outing before the All-Star break.

Mariners: RHP Bryan Woo (3-1, 2.45) will make just his second start since June 24. Woo allowed four runs in 3 1/3 innings on July 12.

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