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Blue Jays want to go into break with win over Astros

TORONTO -- The Houston Astros have been difficult to hold down at the plate, but the Toronto Blue Jays would like to do it for a second straight day in the teams' final game before the All-Star break.

The Astros failed to score at least three runs in a game for the first time since June 16 -- a 2-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox -- when they dropped a 7-2 decision to the Blue Jays on Saturday.

It was a different experience for the Astros, who now have lost two games in a road series for only the third time this season.

The Astros will be trying to gain a split in the four-game series Sunday afternoon at the Rogers Centre when they send out right-hander Brad Peacock (6-1, 2.91 ERA) against Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ (3-5, 3.47).

The Blue Jays, who have won four of their past five games, believe they can build some momentum for a surge after the break if they can take three of four games from the Astros, who have the best record in the American League.

They also took heart from Saturday's win because it followed such a poor performance Friday when they lost 12-2 to the Astros.

"They're a very good team over there," said Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, who hit the go-ahead three-run homer Saturday. "In all phases of the game, they're pretty solid and it's important for us to play well to beat those guys.

"So far, in two of the three we've played pretty well, and let one kind of get away from us early. We were able to bounce back (Saturday), which is important especially after a loss like (Friday)."

The Blue Jays have won two games in a home series for the first time since splitting four games with the New York Yankees on June 1-4 at the Rogers Centre.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons thought that winning Saturday after being trounced Friday night was significant.

"That was big," Gibbons said. "It's no secret we're chasing some teams. We're trying to get rolling. Games like that (Friday) night you kind of close off. I don't think they stick with you as much as when you lose a close one.

"But we're playing the top team in the American League, arguably all of baseball. It's tough to hold them down and that's why the way we pitched (Saturday) was really impressive. But if we're going to get where we want to go, you have to beat the top teams."

The Astros have club-record six players selected to the American League All-Star team, tied for the most in the majors with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have six on the National League team.

"It's indicative of a special season that we've been able to have so far," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "What is it, (88) games in, and we're being recognized in a lot of different ways to prove that.

"You make statements by winning divisions, getting to the playoffs and chasing championships, but the midseason recognition for some of our players is pretty cool."

Happ is 3-2 with a 3.07 ERA in seven starts since coming off the disabled list (elbow inflammation) on May 30 after being out since April 16. He is 3-1 with a 1.99 ERA in his past five starts.

In his most recent outing Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, he earned the win when he allowed four hits, two walks and one run in six innings. He made a season-high 115 pitches.

In seven career starts against the Astros, he is 4-1 with a 3.21 ERA.

Peacock is 4-1 with a 3.66 ERA in his eight starts this season after opening the season in the bullpen.

As a starter, he has posted a 13.27 strikeout-per-nine innings ratio, which leads the majors for starters with a minimum of 25 innings.

Peacock has had seven or more strikeouts in each of his past four starts.

He is 1-0 with a 6.35 ERA in one career start against the Blue Jays.

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