Hernandez finding it tough to avoid big inning

Astros right-hander allows five runs in third vs. Blue Jays

Hernandez finding it tough to avoid big inning

TORONTO -- Big innings have been the main source of Roberto Hernandez's recent struggles, and they continued to haunt the Astros right-hander against the Blue Jays on Friday.

Hernandez gave up five runs in the third inning and the Astros couldn't recover as they dropped the series opener, 6-2, at Rogers Centre.

"Minimizing damage has been hard for him," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "When he settles in and makes his pitches, he can rattle off a few in a row where he retires eight, nine, 10 in a row. But he hasn't been able to control it when they've gotten multiple hits in a row."

Hernandez has allowed 16 earned runs over his last 16 1/3 innings. He's given up three or more runs in an inning in each of his last three outings, which has contributed to his downfall, according to Hinch.

On Friday, after working two innings with little difficulty, Hernandez gave up six hits for five runs to spot the Blue Jays a lead they'd ride all the way to the end. He surrendered a three-run third against the White Sox in his last start, and was on the hook for a five-run first inning against the Tigers prior to that.

Hernandez induces double play

"When they start to put innings together, it kind of creates a snowball effect, where the ball starts rolling down the hill and he's had difficulty stopping it for whatever reason," Hinch said.

In allowing five earned runs while matching a season high of nine hits, Hernandez dropped his fourth straight decision to the Blue Jays. After Jose Reyes and Jose Bautista went yard in the third, he's now allowed 10 homers in his last 35 2/3 innings against Toronto.

Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.