Castro homers twice, Astros drop Blue Jays

The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- Jason Castro continues to be a consistent force in the Houston Astros lineup.

Castro had three hits, including two home runs, and scored three times as the Astros sent the Toronto Blue Jays to their seventh straight loss with an 8-5 win Saturday night.

Brandon Barnes had two hits for the Astros (43-85), who have won three of their last four series.

Houston manager Bo Porter said Castro has been outstanding and pointed to his health as a reason why.

"I think a lot of it has to do with his health and just him being able to obviously be healthy," Porter said. "The rest that we've been able to give him I think is paying big dividends this time of year. Had he not had the amount of time off he's been afforded this year, I think you'll start to see the wear and tear a little bit. But I think he's going to stay strong throughout the course of the year because we've done a tremendous job of monitoring his workload."

Edwin Encarnacion hit his 33rd homer of the season and reached base four times, and Kevin Pillar had two hits, including a three-run home run, for the Blue Jays.

Encarnacion inched the Blue Jays within 7-4 with a solo home run to left-center to start the sixth.

Castro extended Houston's lead to 8-4 with his second home run of the game -- a solo shot to right-center field with two outs in the seventh.

It was Castro's third career two-homer game, with the last one coming May 25 against Oakland. It also tied Castro for the Astros record for home runs by a catcher with 17, set by John Bateman in 1966.

Castro said being tied for the record is kind of surreal because it was not something he thought about entering the season.

"I think the one thing that has helped me all season is just sticking to it and not trying to do too much and just trying to trust some of the adjustments I've made," he said. "They've been working out and the biggest thing that I've really been trying to do this year is stay as consistent as possible and really not deviate from my approach."

J.P. Arencibia sliced the lead to 8-5 with an RBI double down the left-field line that went off Matt Dominguez's glove and scored Encarnacion. Toronto (57-73) could not cut into the lead more as Josh Fields struck out Moises Sierra to end the inning with runners on second and third.

Brad Peacock (3-4) allowed four runs on six hits with five strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings. In four starts since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City, he has allowed 10 runs on 17 hits in 25 innings.

Peacock said his slider was his best pitch working Saturday.

"Just battled out there and came out with the win," Peacock said. "The offense picked me up tonight. They did an awesome job. (The offense) just relaxes me and helps out. I made pitches. I wasn't doing that for the most part, but still it was relaxing to get a cushion."

Chia-Jen Lo pitched the ninth for his second save.

Brandon Barnes gave the Astros a 2-0 lead with a two-run double in the second. Barnes came around to score two batters later on a throwing error by Jose Reyes that allowed Jonathan Villar to reach.

Castro extended Houston's lead to 5-0 with a two-run home run to right field off Chien-Ming Wang.

Robbie Grossman upped the Astros' lead to 6-0 with an RBI double in the fourth off Chad Jenkins. L.J. Hoes plated Grossman with a double to right to make it 7-0.

Pillar cut Houston's lead to 7-3 with a three-run home run to left-center field in the fifth. The homer was initially called a double, but after review the call was switched to a home run, Pillar's first of his career.

Pillar said when it was called a home run, it was a great feeling.

"It came at a time of the game that we didn't have anything going offensively," Pillar said. "I was hoping that would spark us some. It did wake us up a little bit. We scored a couple runs and had a couple chances late."

Wang (1-2) allowed five runs (four earned) on four hits with three strikeouts in three innings. Wang, who was recalled from the minors Saturday for the start, has allowed 18 runs over his last 6 1/3 innings, spanning his last three starts.

"It was a tough go for him," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "He threw some good sinkers, but a lot of them were flat, and that was what they caught up."

NOTES: Toronto recalled RHP Chad Jenkins from Double-A New Hampshire and selected the contract of Wang from Triple-A Buffalo. The Blue Jays also transferred IF Maicer Izturis from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list. Izturis has been on the DL with a left ankle sprain. ... Following Friday's game, Toronto optioned RHP Brad Lincoln to Triple-A Buffalo. ... Houston moved LHP Erik Bedard from the starting rotation to the bullpen for the remainder of the year, Houston manager Bo Porter said prior to Saturday's game. The Astros will continue with a six-man rotation and will announce early next week who the sixth man will be in the rotation, Porter said.
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