Right-hander Jose Berrios will be out to give the Toronto Blue Jays their third consecutive strong start and a series win over the visiting Houston Astros on Thursday night.
After dropping the opener of the four-game series 11-4 on Monday, the Blue Jays used strong starts by Kevin Gausman and Chris Bassitt to win the next two games 5-1 and 3-2, respectively.
Bassitt pitched eight innings Wednesday night and pinch hitter Alejandro Kirk hit an RBI single in the seventh to give Toronto the series lead. In Bassitt's previous start on Friday, he pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings in a victory over the New York Mets.
"His last two outings have been phenomenal," Blue Jays manager John Schneider said.
The two runs he allowed Wednesday came on the 17th homer of the season by Yordan Alvarez in the fourth inning.
"I had my sinker really working tonight," Bassitt said. "They were really aggressive on it. When I'm throwing it well and they're swinging, it's going to be a lot of quick outs."
Gausman matched his career best with 13 strikeouts Tuesday, so the bar has been set high for Berrios on Thursday.
This will be the second time that Berrios (5-4, 3.66 ERA) faces the Astros this season. In seven innings April 19, he allowed two runs on three hits to take the loss in an 8-1 setback in Houston.
In eight career starts against Houston, Berrios is 4-4 with a 4.43 ERA.
The Astros are scheduled to start left-hander Framber Valdez (6-4, 2.16). Valdez is 1-2 with a 5.50 ERA in three career starts against Toronto.
The Astros had second baseman Jose Altuve (right oblique) back in the lineup Wednesday after he missed four games. He was 0-for-4 batting second instead of his customary first.
Mauricio Dubon, who has filled in for Altuve during his absences because of injuries this season, stayed in the lineup as the leadoff hitter and continued his hot hitting. He started at shortstop and went 3-for-4 with a double.
Dubon has a hit in each of his past five games, batting .409 (9-for-22) with a double, a homer and two RBIs.
There were doubters at the beginning of the season when Dubon filled in at second base when Altuve was out with a broken thumb suffered in the World Baseball Classic.
"I don't care what they think. It is what it is," Dubon said. "I know I'm good. I know I belong here. I know I'm one of the guys. I'm trying to show my teammates that I'm a good teammate and go out there every day and perform."
Altuve has helped Dubon, "We always talk," Dubon said. "I try to pick his brain. He's a guy who's going to have 2,000-plus hits. He has to know a little bit about the game. ...
"It's crazy just because he's a future Hall of Famer, and having him as a friend, it's actually pretty nice, I tell people all the time that he's a better person than a baseball player, and I think it shows the type of person he is that he always congratulates me on the stuff I do. It's pretty awesome watching him help me out."
Houston's Grae Kessinger, grandson of former major leaguer Don Kessinger, made his debut with a start at third base Wednesday and he was 0-for-3.
--Field Level Media