Blue Jays-Astros Preview

The Associated Press

Although the Toronto Blue Jays have dropped way out of contention, Todd Redmond hopes to continue making the most of his opportunity in the club's rotation.

A matchup with the slumping Houston Astros might help his cause.

The right-hander will try to put together his third straight strong start Friday night when the Blue Jays open a three-game set at Minute Maid Park.

After getting swept four in a row at Yankee Stadium with Thursday's 5-3 defeat, Toronto (57-71) looks to avoid its sixth straight loss on this road trip. The last-place Blue Jays have dropped 14 of 21 this month.

"The sad part is we're in every game, basically all year," manager John Gibbons said.

They'll attempt to end their longest losing streak since a seven-game slide July 14-24 by giving the ball to Redmond (1-1, 3.32 ERA).

Though the 28-year-old has been effective, he is winless in six consecutive starts after receiving only 12 runs of support in that span.

Redmond has allowed one run over 11 1-3 innings in his last two starts. He limited Tampa Bay to one run in six innings Sunday in a 2-1, 10-inning loss.

"I'm staying with my strengths,'' Redmond said. "The game is about timing, and right now I've got a good opportunity and I'm trying to take advantage of it.''

Redmond was also sharp the last time he faced Houston on July 28. He struck out a career-high 10 and allowed one run and three hits over six innings before Toronto scored in the ninth for a 2-1 home win.

Brett Wallace homered off Redmond in that contest, but he's 0 for 12 with eight strikeouts in his last four home games.

Wallace isn't the only Astro having a difficult time at Minute Maid Park. Houston has averaged 9.9 strikeouts and is hitting .213 while dropping 17 of 20 there.

After losing three straight in Arlington, the major league-worst Astros (41-85) will try to end a six-game home skid by sending Jordan Lyles (5-6, 5.19) to the mound.

Lyles is coming off his first relief appearance, allowing two runs and two hits over 2 1-3 innings in Sunday's 7-5 road win over the Angels.

The right-hander pitched well in his most recent start, giving up one run over seven innings in a 5-4 victory at Oakland on Aug. 13. He had gone 0-5 with an 8.49 ERA in his previous eight starts.

Pitching at home hasn't been any benefit to Lyles, who is 0-3 with a 10.71 ERA in his past four starts there.

He also had a rough outing July 26 in Toronto, yielding four runs and nine hits over five-plus innings before leaving without a decision in a 12-6 loss.

Jose Reyes had three hits, including a home run, off Lyles in that game. He went 7 for 14 in that series to help the Blue Jays take three of four. Brett Lawrie was 2 for 3 with a homer against Lyles and is batting .388 this month.

All-Star Edwin Encarnacion should be thrilled to see the Astros again after he went 9 for 12 with two home runs, three doubles and eight RBIs in that series.

The Blue Jays make their first trip to Houston since getting swept in a three-game series June 10-12, 2005.