Bedard solid, but Buehrle blanks Astros

Bedard solid, but Buehrle blanks Astros

Bedard solid, but Buehrle blanks Astros

TORONTO -- Erik Bedard of the Astros and Mark Buehrle of the Blue Jays are both veteran left-handed pitchers in the American League, and the comparison ends there.

Bedard operates more slowly, more methodically, and -- with three shoulder surgeries on his resume -- he isn't in position to pitch as deep into games as he did earlier in his career. Buehrle works quickly, more aggressively and sets himself up to toss as long as his stuff will carry him.

By plowing through the young Astros at a frenzied pace on Thursday night at Rogers Centre, Buehrle helped the Jays snap their seven-game losing streak by throwing a masterful two-hit shutout to beat Houston, 4-0, in a game that took 2 hours, 18 minutes to complete.

"What we witnessed tonight was an experienced Major League pitcher that executed a game plan," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "Obviously, they watched film, they watched our hitters, and it was pretty evident they had a good game plan how he was going to attack our hitters. We did a good job of making the adjustment once we went through the lineup one."

The only hits the Astros managed came on a fifth-inning single up the middle by Justin Maxwell and a seventh-inning double to left field by J.D. Martinez. The Astros were shut out for 11th time this season en route to losing for the 18th time in their past 22 games.

"He was just keeping guys off balance," catcher Jason Castro said. "He was able to throw a lot different pitches and command it really well. That's what worked for him. That's why he's a good pitcher. He can pretty much throw any of his offspeed stuff at any point -- doesn't matter what the count is. It's definitely a weapon for him."

The complete game was the 29th of Buehrle's career and it was his ninth shutout -- his first since throwing a perfect game in 2009. He walked only two batters, struck out a season-high nine and threw a mixture of soft stuff away and cutters inside for 108 pitches.

"I'm sure a lot of people will be saying, obviously, this is the worst team in baseball. Record-wise, they're not very good, but in my mind, they're still big league hitters," Buehrle said. "If you make a mistake, they're going to make you pay for it. I did make a few mistakes tonight, got lucky and got away with them, but for the most part, J.P. [Arencibia] called a great game, we worked ahead in the count, made some good pitches when I had to."

Bedard (3-8) was coming off a performance in which he was criticized for wanting to come out. In Saturday's game against Seattle, the lefty had thrown 6 1/3 hitless innings, but wanted to protect his shoulder. He removed any such decision this time by allowing a single to Jose Reyes to start the first.

"I'm just glad I gave up a hit the first batter, so there's no controversy," he joked. "Other than that, I felt pretty good."

Pitching in front of friends and family from his native Ontario, Bedard held his own by allowing one run and three hits and striking out six batters in five innings. He threw 95 pitches, which put him 14 shy of the season-high 109 pitches thrown in his previous two starts.

"I knew [Lucas] Harrell was warming up, and I was getting a little sore, but it was perfect timing for that," Bedard said.

The Blue Jays jumped on Harrell in the seventh by scoring three times to take a 4-0 lead. Harrell walked Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to start the inning, pinch-hitter Adam Lind followed with an RBI double and Maicer Izturis added a two-run single.

Buehrle (6-7) was facing the Astros for the first time since allowing one run in eight innings while he was with the White Sox in 2007. On Thursday, he retired 13 of the first 15 batters he faced and didn't give up a hit until Maxwell's sharp single with two outs in the fifth.

"He had everything going," Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He kept them off balance. That's typical Buehrle. When he's on, when he's hitting his spots, when he has his good changeup, I thought he did a really good job of going inside on some of the right-handers to keep them honest. It came along at a time when we definitely needed it, because our bullpen is kind of tired."

The Jays took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Bedard walked Bautista with two outs and then watched Encarnacion shoot a two-out, two-strike double into the right-field corner to score Bautista. That was the only damage against Bedard.

"Our guys battled, but Buehrle had a game plan, and his game plan worked for nine innings," Porter said. "That's why he had a complete game."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.