By Christian Boutwell and Brian McTaggart
HOUSTON -- The Blue Jays didn't treat former teammate Francisco Liriano too kindly Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.
Liriano, making his second appearance for the Astros and first against Toronto since getting traded on Monday, gave up the winning run in the 10th inning when Ryan Goins shot a two-out single to left field to score Rob Refsnyder and send the Blue Jays to a 4-3 victory.
"Obviously, the play of the game," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Goins' clutch hit and an impressive slide by Refsnyder.
Refsnyder raced home from second base on Goins' single to left field and adeptly tagged home plate with his left hand while avoiding the tag of catcher Brian McCann, who dove toward the plate when Derek Fisher's throw took him up the first-base line. Astros manager A.J. Hinch challenged the safe call, but it would stand after replay review.
"That's one guy when he was here I told him I never wanted to face him," Goins said of the veteran lefty Liriano, who was his teammate less than a week prior. "Luckily I found the hole. I won this time, but that's one guy -- he's nasty. His numbers say what they are, but he's one of the nastiest guys in the league."
The Astros have lost four of their last five games, but still hold a 14 1/2-game lead in the American League West over the Mariners, who were rained out Saturday. The last-place Blue Jays (52-58) are actually closer to their division leader, 9 1/2 games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox. They are five games back in the AL Wild Card race.
"We made some mistakes, we lost some at-bats we were working to try to get and they executed when they had the biggest at-bat of their night a couple of times," Hinch said. "Tough game to lose, obviously. Definitely a winnable game."
Josh Reddick rocked Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada for a two-run homer in the first inning, and Houston's Tyler White broke a 2-2 tie with a homer in the third -- his third homer in as many at-bats after going deep twice to close Friday's blowout win.
An RBI fielder's choice by Jose Bautista in the seventh inning tied the game at 3. It was Bautista's second RBI of the game. Josh Donaldson's first-inning RBI double put the Blue Jays on the board first.
Estrada worked seven innings and held the Astros to five hits and three runs, one night after they tagged Blue Jays pitching for 18 hits and 16 runs. Astros starter Charlie Morton held the Blue Jays to three runs and seven hits in seven innings.
"It was a really good ballgame," Gibbons said. "Great pitching on both sides. We scratched and scored some runs we had to score."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Estrada strand 'em: The Astros led off the seventh with a single by Carlos Beltran and a double by Alex Bregman, putting runners at second and third with no outs in a 3-3 game. Estrada got McCann to pop out in foul territory on the first pitch before striking out J.D. Davis and White to strand the runners in scoring position.
"He's in a big-time jam, but you know what? He's a master at that since Day 1 that he got here," Gibbons said of Estrada. "Nobody's better at working out of jams, especially late in the outing when he knows it's probably his last inning. I've seen him doing it over and over."
Bregman snags one: The Astros returned the favor in the eighth, when the Blue Jays put runners at second and third base with one out. Reliever Chris Devenski was pulled after getting Goins to pop out, and Ken Giles needed one pitch to get Pillar to hit a blooper to shallow left field that sprinting shortstop Bregman caught over his shoulder for the final out.
"It was awesome. At first, I thought he was going to be out because of the way McCann dove in there, but he somehow snuck his hand in. It was a pretty impressive slide. I was pretty happy about it. When they sent him, I looked up and was like, 'Man, that's going to be close.' The fielder already had the ball by the time he touched third. I knew it was going to be close. Luckily, the throw was a little bit off and Rob got his hand in there somehow." -- Estrada, on Refsnyder's game-winning slide
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Pinch-hitting for Kendrys Morales, Refsnyder drew a one-out walk in the 10th inning. Refsnyder stole second base before Steve Pearce struck out, then raced home on Goins' single to left field. He was deemed safe on a close play at the plate, a call that would stand after an Astros challenge.
"I knew it was going to be close," Refsnyder said. "I was just trying to time it up. … He was going to make his tag, and I just tried to avoid it."
WHAT'S NEXT Blue Jays:Marcus Stroman (10-5, 3.19 ERA) closes the three-game series against the Astros at 2:10 p.m. ET on Sunday at Minute Maid Park. In his last start against the Astros, on July 8, Stroman tossed seven stellar innings, allowing one run on six hits while striking out six in a 7-2 Toronto win.
Astros: Right-hander Mike Fiers (7-6, 3.97 ERA) starts Sunday's 1:10 p.m. CT series finale. He's lost his last two starts, including Monday's defeat to the Rays.