Astros muscle up to clinch series vs. Toronto

Astros muscle up to clinch series vs. Toronto

HOUSTON -- The Astros overcame an early three-run deficit with a four-run sixth inning, highlighted by Chris Carter's three-run home run, in beating the Blue Jays, 6-5, on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park. Houston extended its winning streak to four games, and three straight over Toronto.

"This is a great illustration of why he belongs in the lineup," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said of Carter. "He can impact the game. This guy can make a difference in the game on any given night."

The Astros (24-13) tied their best 37-game start in franchise history and made a winner out of Scott Feldman (3-4), who overcame a shaky first inning to strike out 10 in 6 2/3 innings.

Feldman's stellar start

The Blue Jays scored three runs in the top of the first off Feldman, two on a triple from Russell Martin, his first three-bagger since 2007, scoring Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista.

Martin's two-run triple

The Astros, who are 21-0 when scoring four or more runs, got to Toronto starter Marco Estrada in the third inning. Houston trimmed the deficit to 3-2 in the inning on a two-run home run to left field by Evan Gattis, his seventh of the season.

Gattis' two-run shot

"We got off to such a quick start, so you feel really good about things," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "They hung close and hung close and just opened it up late with the homer." More >

Carter provides pop: Carter greeted Liam Hendriks with a three-run homer into the Astros' bullpen in right-center field in the sixth inning, giving the Astros a 5-3 lead. Carter was hitting .153 before hitting his sixth home run. Hendriks replaced Jeff Francis, who allowed a single to Preston Tucker and a ground-rule double to Colby Rasmus in his only two batters. Two batters after Carter homered, Marwin Gonzalez went deep off Hendriks, upping the lead to 6-3.

Gonzalez's solo shot

"I try to hit the ball hard and whatever happens, happens," Carter said. "I'm swinging better now, I'm seeing better pitches. I think things are about to turn around for me."

Off to the races: The high-water mark for the visitors came right off the bat. The Blue Jays scored three runs in an impressive first inning while making Feldman toss 33 pitches. Martin's one-out triple drove in a pair and Justin Smoak followed by ripping a run-scoring single. Toronto finished a homer shy of the cycle in the inning on three hits, but only managed two more hits in the game before Edwin Encarnacion's two-run shot in the 9th inning.

Encarnacion's two-run homer

"I was actually trying to throw it for a ball, and I didn't get it in enough. Pretty much made one mistake today." -- Estrada, on his pitch on Gattis' homer

"You can't throw in the towel. It's frustrating to give up [early] runs and put the team in a spot where they got to claw back." -- Feldman, on allowing three first-inning runs More >

Toronto second baseman Devon Travis exited the game after his seventh-inning strikeout with a re-irritation of the left shoulder issue that caused him to miss a game back on May 1. Travis said he doesn't expect to miss much time. More >

Travis removed from game

Feldman has allowed 11 of his 27 runs earned this season during the first inning, for an opening-inning ERA of 12.38. In his other 40 frames, that number drops to 3.60.

Blue Jays: It will be Mark Buehrle on the bump for Sunday's 1:10 PM CT start at Minute Maid Park, and that's probably good news for Toronto given his performances of late. The lefty has posted consecutive wins, allowing just three runs over those two starts, and he has five quality starts in seven outings. With a heavy right-handed lineup for Houston and the park's short porches, preventing the home runs that plagued him during some early struggles will be a high priority.

Astros: Houston hands the ball to righty Collin McHugh on Sunday. His 11-decision winning streak came to an end after 4 2/3 shaky innings vs. San Francisco on Monday, but the Astros are still 6-1 in games he's started this season. McHugh held the Jays to one run and five hits while earning the win last August in his only career appearance against Toronto.

Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.

Chris Abshire and Richard Dean are contributors to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.