HOUSTON — It isn’t very often that Alex Bregman whiffs on two straight fastballs, so when he did so in the ninth inning on Wednesday it left Houston’s third baseman a bit upset.
Fortunately for the Astros, he took out that aggression on the next pitch, connecting for a two-run homer that completed a big rally to lift Houston to a 7-6 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
It was Bregman’s third straight game with a homer and it capped a huge comeback for the Astros, who trailed 5-0 in the middle of the first inning after a terrible start by Dallas Keuchel.
The Astros trailed by one when Tony Kemp singled off Ryan Tepera (5-3) with no outs in the ninth and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Then with one out in the inning, Bregman sent a fastball to left field, where it bounced off the wall above the Crawford Boxes, to give Houston the victory.
“That was the first guy I’ve swung and missed two straight fastballs on this year I think besides (Luis) Severino,” Bregman said. “So it kind of ticked me off.”
Manager A.J. Hinch wasn’t surprised that Bregman came through for his team.
“For him to be able to stay calm in the moment, we’ve seen this — Alex Bregman, game on the line, ice in his veins,” Hinch said.
Bregman also doubled twice on Wednesday after hitting a homer and doubling three times in a win on Tuesday night.
“I don’t know how many hits Bregman had this series but he had too many,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said.
Will Harris (3-3) allowed one hit in a scoreless ninth for the win.
Gibbons was frustrated that his team let this one get away.
“That’s probably my low point this year because you’ve got it right there,” he said. “Those are the teams you want to beat. I think what magnifies that is anytime you get a 5-0 lead that’s what gets you.”
After the Blue Jays took a 5-0 lead in the first, Houston scored three in the bottom of the first to close the gap and got within one Evan Gattis’ RBI double in the fifth. But Kevin Pillar singled and scored on an error in the sixth to make it 6-4.
Marwin Gonzalez snapped an 0 for 23 slump with a solo shot to the bullpen in right-centre off Tyler Clippard with two outs in the eighth inning to cut the lead to one.
The Blue Jays jumped on Keuchel immediately a day after being shut out for the fifth time this season in a 7-0 loss. Randal Grichuk hit a leadoff double followed by a walk by Teoscar Hernandez. Yangervis Solarte made it 1-0 with an RBI double before Keuchel walked Steve Pearce.
Hernandez scored on a sacrifice fly by Kendrys Morales before Pillar made it 3-0 with a run-scoring single.
Another RBI single, this one on a grounder by Aledmys Diaz, pushed the lead to 4-0 before Luke Maile’s sacrifice fly made it 5-0.
Toronto starter Marco Estrada allowed seven hits and four runs — three earned — in five innings.
Keuchel, the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner who hadn’t allowed an earned run in his past two starts, gave up seven hits and six runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Evan Gattis doubled twice and drove in three runs to give him 30 RBIs this month, which is a franchise record for RBIs in June.
Keuchel settled down after his terrible first inning, allowing just one baserunner over the next four innings. But Pillar, who singled in the third inning, hit another single with one out in the sixth before a single by Diaz.
Keuchel walked Maile to load the bases and Toronto extended the lead to 6-4 when Devon Travis reached and Pillar scored on an error by Jose Altuve.
“Just a tremendous job of staying the course. Not getting too mad at himself. Not getting too frustrated and just putting up zeros to allow us to make it a game,” Hinch said.
Astros: SS Carlos Correa sat out for the second straight day with a sore back. Hinch said the problem isn’t serious but he wants to give him time to rest. … RHP Joe Smith (right elbow inflammation) threw a bullpen on Wednesday and will likely begin a rehabilitation assignment this weekend.
Gibbons managed his 1,500th game on Wednesday. He’s managed the second-most games in Blue Jays history behind the 1,764 games that Cito Gaston managed. He is 757-743 in his career, which leaves him in 11th place for wins among active managers.
Gibbons, who is in his second stint as Toronto’s manager, has been at the helm since 2013.
Blue Jays: Toronto is off on Thursday before opening a four-game series against the Tigers on Friday with Marcus Stroman (0-5, 6.80 ERA) on the mound. Stroman allowed six hits in five scoreless innings in his return from the disabled list in his previous start.
Astros: Lance McCullers (8-3, 3.82) will start for Houston in the first of four games at Tampa on Thursday night. McCullers allowed four hits and three runs while fanning nine in six innings in his previous outing.