- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 3, 2016

HOUSTON (AP) - Lance McCullers left with right elbow discomfort, and the Houston Astros’ offense continued to sputter.

McCullers will be examined Wednesday after pitching 4 2/3 innings Tuesday night in a 2-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

McCullers (6-5) allowed two runs and seven hits with six strikeouts.

“We don’t really know,” McCullers said about the injury. “We’re just going to follow protocol and take it step by step and see where we are tomorrow. I felt a little discomfort, and out of precaution, I just had to get out of there.”

Joe Musgrove replaced McCullers and struck out eight in 4 1/3 scoreless innings, tying a major league record for strikeouts by a reliever in his big league debut set by Barry Jones with Pittsburgh in 1986.

“I pitch to contact so I tried to get ahead as best I could,” Musgrove said. “Two-strike situations presented themselves a lot more tonight than usual, but with a defense like this behind me, it was easy to just trust the guys behind you and let them work. I just tried to throw the ball in the zone, let them put it in play and let our guys do the rest.”

R.A. Dickey threw seven solid innings and Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion homered for Toronto.

Houston has scored two runs or fewer in four straight games for a total of five runs.

“We haven’t been able to muster hits together,” Hinch said. “Concern? No, I believe in our guys and love our guys. Obviously, we haven’t been able to get the motor started for a few games now, but we’ve run into some good pitching and had some missed opportunities.”

Bautista hit his 300th career homer in the third to put Toronto up 1-0.

Encarnacion launched his 29th home run to lead off the fourth - a monstrous shot that bounced off the railroad tracks at Minute Maid Park before landing in left field.

“I made two mistakes and paid for both of them with home runs,” McCullers said. “But I felt really good tonight. I thought it was going to be a good night.”

Dickey (8-12) allowed one run on six hits with five strikeouts. He had allowed 18 runs - 17 earned - over his last three starts, all losses.

“We have been in an offensive lull for a few games now,” Hinch said. “Obviously, Dickey had his good knuckleball going tonight, and his ball was moving all over the place.”

Danny Barnes pitched the eighth before Jason Grilli pitched the ninth for his second save with Toronto and his fourth overall.

Evan Gattis cut the lead to 2-1 with an RBI single in the seventh. Jose Altuve had three hits for Houston.


Astros: RHP Luke Gregerson was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 28 with a left oblique strain. The Astros recalled IF A.J. Reed from Triple-A Fresno. … OF Carlos Gomez (right hamstring) was back in the lineup Tuesday after missing the last four games. He went 1 for 4.


Astros: Houston will recall RHP James Hoyt from Triple-A Fresno on Wednesday, and RHP Doug Fister will go on the three-day paternity list.


Blue Jays: RHP Marco Estrada (6-4) will look for his second straight win Wednesday in the third of four games against the Astros. Estrada allowed four runs in his last outing Friday against Baltimore, the most runs he had allowed since May 14 when he was tagged for five runs.

Astros: RHP Collin McHugh (7-7) will look to rebound after being tagged for eight runs on 10 hits in 1 2/3 innings Friday at Detroit.

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