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Buehrle blanks Astros as Jays end skid

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle was in a bit of a hurry after he shut out the Houston Astros 4-0 Thursday.

He was going to a Tim McGraw concert.

Buehrle pitched all night as if he were in a rush to get things over with, allowing just two hits and striking out a season-high nine as he helped the Blue Jays snap a season-worst seven-game losing streak.

"Today was one of those days when obviously I had a lot of stuff working for me," said Buehrle, who recorded his first shutout since July 23, 2009, when he threw a perfect game for the Chicago White Sox against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Maicer Izturis drove in two runs in support of Buehrle, and Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion each added an RBI. Jose Reyes had three hits.

"What we witnessed tonight was an experienced major league pitcher that executed a game plan," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "Buehrle had a game plan, and his game plan pretty much worked for nine innings."

Buehrle (6-7) posted his highest strikeout total since April 16, 2005, when he had 12 as a member of the White Sox.

He walked two and hit a batter Thursday in recording the ninth shutout and 29th complete game of his career.

It was the first win for the Blue Jays (46-55) since the All-Star break and the first on their homestand that opened with six losses in a row.

"It's been awhile," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.

The Astros, who were starting a 10-game road trip after going 1-5 on a homestand, have lost two in a row. They have the worst record in the major leagues at 34-67.

"I'm sure there's going to be a lot of people who are saying that this is the worst team in baseball and record-wise they're not very good," Buehrle said. "In my mind, they're still big-league hitters. If you make a mistake, they're going to make you pay for it. I did make a few mistakes and got lucky and got away with them. For the most part, J.P. (Arencibia, the catcher,) called a great game, working ahead in the count, making some good pitches when I had to."

Houston left-hander Erik Bedard (3-8) allowed three hits, one walk and one run while striking out six in five innings. Right-hander Lucas Harrell took over in the sixth and allowed three runs in the seventh.

"(Buehrle) was just keeping guys off balance," Astros catcher Jason Castro said. "He was able to throw a lot of different pitches, and he commands it really well. That's what's worked for him, that's why he's a good pitcher. He can pretty much throw any of his off-speed stuff at any point, it doesn't matter what the count is. It's definitely a weapon for him. He never really left much over the plate."

Gibbons added, "That's typical Buehrle when he's on, when he's hitting his spots. He's got that good changeup. I thought he did a real good job of pitching some right-handers inside to keep them honest."

The Astros did not have a runner reach second base until the sixth, when Brandon Barnes was hit by a pitch and was sacrificed along by Jonathan Villar. Buehrle retired the next two batters on grounders.

J.D. Martinez doubled to left-center with one out in the seventh to give the Astros their second hit of the game. Brett Wallace struck out and Maxwell grounded out.

The Blue Jays took a 1-0 lead in the fourth. Jose Bautista walked with two outs and came around to score on Encarnacion's double to right field. Encarnacion was out trying for a triple. It was Toronto's second hit of the game.

Bautista and Encarnacion drew walks to start the home seventh against Harrell. Pinch hitter Lind drilled a double off the left field wall to increase the lead to 2-0. Izturis ended an 0-for-14 slump with a two-run single.

NOTES: Blue Jays RHP Brandon Morrow (forearm) will be out for about another six weeks after being diagnosed with an entrapped radial nerve in his right forearm. He has been on the disabled list since May 29. ... Toronto 3B Brett Lawrie primarily will remain at third base after he was tried at second base, Gibbons said. Gibbons likes the plays Lawrie is able to make at third. ... Astros outfielders Barnes (calf strain) and Martinez (back contusion) were back in the lineup Thursday after being injured Tuesday and not playing Wednesday. ... RHP R.A. Dickey (8-11, 4.75 ERA) will start for the Blue Jays against RHP Jordan Lyles (4-4, 4.78 ERA) in Friday's second game of the series. ... The game drew a crowd of 24,188 at Rogers Centre.
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