Brown pitches 6 innings, Peña and Alvarez homer as Astros beat Blue Jays 3-1 for 10th win in 11

TORONTO (AP) — Hunter Brown pitched six shutout innings, Jeremy Peña and Yordan Alvarez hit home runs and the Houston Astros beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-1 on Monday afternoon for their 10th win in 11 games.

After going 4-0 with a 1.16 ERA in five June starts, Brown (6-5) opened July with another solid outing. The right-hander allowed two hits, both singles. He walked three and struck out five.

“It couldn’t happen to a better guy,” Peña said. “He prepares really well and he goes out there and competes.”

Decked out in special red jerseys and caps, the Blue Jays lost on the Canada Day holiday for a second year in a row.

After Rafael Montero worked a 1-2-3 seventh inning, the Blue Jays loaded the bases against Bryan Abreu in the eighth. Abreu escaped by getting Daulton Varsho to ground out.

“You can have him against the ropes but he’s going to figure out a way to get people out,” Astros manager Joe Espada said of Abreu. “That’s just Bryan. He’s so good, his stuff is so explosive.”

Josh Hader allowed a solo home run to Ernie Clement in the ninth but finished for his 13th save in 14 chances.

Clement’s homer off Hader was his fourth of the season.

Toronto left eight runners on base, twice leaving the bases loaded. They finished 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.

“We just needed a hit in certain spots,” manager John Schneider said.

The Blue Jays used a single and two walks to load the bases with one out in the second but Brown got Clement to pop up before striking out Kevin Kiermaier.

“The first two innings I wasn’t executing at the clip I wanted to,” Brown said. “I was able to bear down and make some pitches early in an at-bat that kind of forced them to swing at some stuff.”

The Blue Jays have played 36 innings against the Astros this season and scored in just two of them. Toronto won 2-1 on April 2 when Davis Schneider hit a two-run home run off Hader in the ninth inning.

Houston’s Ronel Blanco threw a no-hitter against Toronto on April 1, and five Astros pitchers combined on a one-hit win over the Blue Jays on April 3.

Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was scratched from the lineup Monday because of pain in his right hand. Guerrero was hit on the fingers by a 96 mph fastball from Yankees right-hander Gerrit Cole in the third inning of Sunday’s loss to New York.

Toronto right-hander Yariel Rodríguez retired his first 14 batters before Peña hit a first-pitch homer in the fifth inning for his sixth of the season.

“I was just looking for a good pitch to hit and put a barrel on it,” Peña said.

Rodríguez (0-3) allowed one run and two hits in a career-high 6 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out six.

Alvarez gave the Astros some insurance with a two-run shot off Zach Pop in the ninth. The homer was his 17th.


Blue Jays: Toronto put catcher Danny Jansen on the paternity list and recalled catcher Brian Serven from Triple-A Buffalo.


Astros: 2B Jose Altuve got the day off. … Right-hander Justin Verlander (neck) resumed throwing over the weekend but there is no timetable for his return, Espada said.

Blue Jays: INF Spencer Horwitz moved from second base to replace Guerrero, and Clement came in to play third. … INF Isiah Kiner-Falefa was scratched from the lineup after his left knee felt sore during pregame warmups. Kiermaier came in to play center, Varsho moved from center to left, and Davis Schneider went from left field to second.


Blue Jays RHP José Berríos (7-6, 3.38 ERA) is scheduled to start Tuesday night against Astros RHP Spencer Arrighetti (4-6, 5.68).