Astros hold off Blue Jays, avert sweep

Toronto, ON ( - Robbie Grossman, Jonathan Villar and Jason Castro all homered to back a solid start from Dallas Keuchel, as the Houston Astros avoided a three-game sweep against the Toronto Blue Jays with a 6-4 win at Rogers Centre.

Grossman smashed a two-run shot in the fifth, Villar ripped a three-run blast in the seventh and Castro clubbed a solo homer in the eighth in support of Keuchel (1-1), who struck out six and allowed just a run on five hits and two walks over seven innings.

Chad Qualls spun a scoreless eighth before Astros closer Josh Fields ran into trouble in the ninth, giving up a leadoff walk to Dioner Navarro and a one-out single to Colby Rasmus.

Fields bounced back to retire Erik Kratz, but Adam Lind delivered a two-out, two-run double to left to bring the Blue Jays within 6-3.

Anthony Bass then entered from the bullpen and got Melky Cabrera to cue one back toward the mound, but the Houston right-hander air-mailed his throw to first to allow Lind to score and Cabrera to roll into second.

Maicer Izturis then stepped to the plate as the tying run, but Bass induced a comebacker that he fielded easily before flipping to first to nail down his first save of the season and second of his career.

Rasmus registered three hits, including a solo homer, and scored twice, while Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey (1-2) surrendered five runs on six hits and three walks over seven innings to absorb the loss.

Dickey had his patented knuckleball dancing early on, with the Toronto right- hander allowing just one hit over the first four frames.

"I had really good command of (the knuckleball) early on," Dickey said. "I was throwing it hard, it felt great coming out of my hand, and then we had just a couple of hiccups and it happened really quickly."

The Astros finally solved Dickey in the fifth, as Marc Krauss clubbed a leadoff double and moved to third on a groundout before trotting home when Grossman followed with a blast to right-center field.

Grossman got ahead in the count 3-0 before drilling a Dickey knuckleball over the wall in right-center for his first homer of the season and a 2-0 lead.

Rasmus responded with one away in the home half when he jumped on a first- pitch fastball and launched it deep into the seats in center to make it 2-1.

The Astros got to Dickey again in the seventh, as Matt Dominguez scorched a one-out double and Grossman worked a walk, prompting the Blue Jays to call a meeting on the mound.

Whatever was said on the bump didn't work, as Villar ripped Dickey's next offering over the wall in straightaway center field to make it 5-1 Houston.

"Robbie put a good swing on his pitch and Villar with the big three-run homer really gave a little bit more cushion," Houston manager Bo Porter said. "I felt like the guys had good at-bats and they made (Dickey) get the ball up and that's important when you are facing a knuckleballer."

Esmil Rogers replaced Dickey to start the eighth and was greeted by Castro, who clubbed a 2-2 fastball deep to right-center to extend Houston's edge to 6-1.

Game Notes

Houston entered the game tied for second in the American League with 11 home runs this season ... Cabrera went 2-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to 10 games ... The Blue Jays wrapped up a six-game homestand at 3-3 and will open a 10-day, nine-game road trip Thursday in Baltimore ... Houston will continue its six-game road trip on Friday when it visits the Rangers ... Toronto finished 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.