TORONTO (AP) — Kevin Gausman matched his career high by striking out 13 over seven innings, George Springer, Bo Bichette and Daulton Varsho all homered, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Houston Astros 5-1 Tuesday night.
Gausman (5-3) gave up a leadoff homer to Mauricio Dubón on his second pitch but recovered to hold the Astros in check and win his third straight start. Houston had a season-high 19 hits in Monday’s 11-4 win.
“He’s nasty,” Dubón said of Gausman. “He’s one of the best in the game.”
The AL strikeout leader with 113, Gausman has struck out 10 or more a major league-leading six times this season. He also fanned 13 in an April 29 win over Seattle.
“I had a really good feel for my splitter today,” Gausman said.
Jeremy Peña and Alex Bregman each whiffed three times against Gausman, who gave up one run and four hits, striking out five of the final six batters he faced. The right-hander didn’t issue a walk, the fourth time this season he’s done that.
“For me, the no walks is more important to me than the 13 strikeouts,” Gausman said. “I’m just out there trying to make good pitches. I made a lot of good pitches with two strikes.”
Varsho faced Gausman when they were both in the National League and said it was always tough.
“He’s an unbelievable pitcher and there’s a reason why he’s dominating,” Varsho said.
Erik Swanson struck out a pair in the eighth and Trevor Richards added one more in the ninth as Toronto won for the eighth time in 11 games.
Houston struck out 16 times, one shy of its season-worst. The Astros fanned 17 times in a 10-inning loss at Minnesota on April 8.
Springer gave the Blue Jays the lead with a two-run homer in the third, his ninth. Varsho extended Toronto’s advantage with a solo shot in the fourth, his 11th. Varsho also homered Monday, and has connected three times in six games.
“I’m really trying to focus on hitting my pitch, trying not to expand the zone,” Varsho said.
Both homers came off Astros rookie right-hander Hunter Brown (5-3), who lost consecutive decisions for the first time.
Brown allowed three runs and three hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out five.
“Hunter was good,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said.
Bichette homered on Rafael Montero’s first pitch of the eighth inning, his 13th. Three batters later, Whit Merrifield’s RBI double made it 5-1.
Astros: 2B Jose Altuve missed his fourth straight game because of a sore right oblique but is expected to return Wednesday, Baker said.
Blue Jays: 3B Matt Chapman was out of the lineup after having an ingrown toenail removed Tuesday.
Toronto sent struggling RHP Alek Manoah to the rookie-level Florida Complex League, one day after the 2022 All-Star and AL Cy Young Award finalist couldn’t get out of the first inning. Manoah is 1-7 with a 6.36 ERA in 13 starts after going 16-7 with a 2.24 ERA in 31 starts in 2022.
Toronto activated RHP Chris Bassitt off the paternity list and reinstated INF Santiagio Espinal (right hamstring) from the 10-day injured list. The Blue Jays selected RHP Bowden Francis from Triple-A Buffalo, and optioned RHP Jay Jackson and INF Ernie Clement to Triple-A. Minor league RHP Zach Thompson was designated for assignment.
Gausman is tied with Atlanta’s Spencer Strider for the major league lead in strikeouts. He leads the majors in innings pitched at 82.
Bassitt (6-4, 3.41 ERA) is set to pitch for Toronto on Wednesday, while RHP Ronel Blanco (1-0, 4.15) goes for the Astros. Blanco will make his second career start.