- Associated Press - Saturday, May 16, 2015

HOUSTON (AP) - With rainy weather hovering over downtown Houston on Friday night, the Minute Maid Park roof was closed.

The subtle puffs of air conditioning in the breezeless stadium didn’t do any favors for R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball as the Toronto Blue Jays fell 8-4 to the Astros.

After being tagged for seven runs and 10 hits in five innings, Dickey (1-5) had few answers.

“I’m not able to execute,” Dickey said. “It’s been the longest where I haven’t had the consistent movement that I’d like. I’ve had stretches like this before, and I’m confident it’s going to turn.”

Toronto has now lost three straight and five of its last six.

Jose Altuve hit a three-run homer and George Springer and Luis Valbuena also connected as the Astros won their third in a row.

In addition to Dickey’s struggles, the offense couldn’t get much going against Houston’s pitching.

Dallas Keuchel (5-0) won his seventh straight decision overall. He gave up four runs and eight hits while striking out five in six innings.

“We had some chances in the early innings with the meat of our order, and we couldn’t push anything across,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “They’ve got a good club. They outplayed us again tonight. That’s all it was.”

Altuve and Springer homered off Dickey as Houston built a 7-1 lead after four innings. After recently losing six of eight, the Astros have gotten back to the outpouring of offense that put them into the AL West lead.

Houston’s eight runs marked its highest output since May 2 in an 11-4 win over Seattle.

The Astros scored three times in the second on a sacrifice fly by Chris Carter and RBI singles from Marwin Gonzalez and Jake Marisnick.

Altuve launched a home run 422 feet to deep left-center field in the fourth.

“It can be really infuriating on a night like tonight,” Dickey said. “At times, I felt like I had a really good knuckleball and then all of a sudden, it’d get pounced on or there’d be a ball that rolls through a hole, and the next guy hits a home run, and it just kind of snowballs. I don’t have all the answers right now.”

The Blue Jays closed to 7-4 in the sixth. Danny Valencia hit a two-run double and Chris Colabello followed with an RBI single.

Valencia’s double was Toronto’s only extra-base hit of the game.

Valbuena hit his ninth homer of the season, tagging Ryan Tepera in the seventh.

One game removed from a masterful eight-inning, one-run outing against the Yankees on May 4, Dickey returned to the slumping start to his 2015 campaign.

“It’s obvious they hit him around pretty good,” Gibbons said. “He basically throws one pitch so when it’s on, he’s real tough. When it’s not quite as sharp or dances as much, he gets hit around a little bit. But you could throw everybody in that category.”

Josh Donaldson hit an infield single in the third that scored Colabello to give Toronto its first run. Donaldson extended his streak of reaching base safely against the Astros to 33 straight games, the longest streak against one team in the majors.

COLABELLO STAYS HOT

With two singles on Friday night, Colabello recorded his seventh multihit game in 10 games with the Blue Jays. He has hit .474 in that stretch since being called up from Triple-A Buffalo.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: RHP Marco Estrada (1-2, 3.54 ERA) tries for his first winning streak since last June 25. After beginning the season with an 0.84 ERA in 10 2/3 innings of relief, he has struggled since joining the rotation.

Astros: RHP Scott Feldman (2-4, 5.23 ERA) tries to snap a two-loss skid, during which he has an 8.10 ERA so far in May. Feldman has five quality starts in seven outings in 2015 but has yet to turn them into consistent wins.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: INF Jose Reyes (cracked rib/oblique strain) could begin a rehab assignment next week after he took full batting practice on Friday, general manager Alex Anthopoulos said… OF Michael Saunders will likely be out for the next 4-6 weeks to rest a surgically repaired left knee. Saunders was placed on the disabled list on May 10 and has played in just nine games this year.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide