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OAK@HOU: Cosart fans four over seven frames vs. A's

The Astros may have staved off a sweep with an 8-6 win on Saturday, but when they meet the Blue Jays on Sunday, both teams have series streaks they'd like to snap.

Toronto needs Sunday's finale to notch its first series win since July 5-7 against Minnesota. Wins against Houston on Thursday and Friday gave the Blue Jays consecutive wins for the first time since they were the hottest team in baseball during an 11-game winning streak more than a month ago.

"We haven't had a lot of [series wins]," said manager John Gibbons. "It's been a tough homestand, especially. Before the All-Star break ... we were playing pretty good at home. But we want to finish the season strong."

Meanwhile, the Astros have dropped seven series in a row and haven't won a set outright in 10 tries -- including this four-game battle against Toronto.

But a win would halt the losing stretch, which dates back to splitting a pair of home games against St. Louis in late June.

With that on the line, the Astros will give the ball to rookie standout Jarred Cosart. The righty has made two Major League starts, accounting for Houston's only two wins in a 15-game stretch that ended Friday. He's been nothing short of exceptional, posting a 0.60 ERA.

Cosart took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of his Major League debut against Tampa Bay on July 5, beating the Rays and outdueling reigning American League Cy Young Award winner David Price. Against Oakland on Tuesday, he allowed only one earned run over seven innings of a no-decision.

The righty is the third Astros pitcher in team history to throw at least seven innings in his first two starts and allow one earned run or fewer.

Opposing Cosart will be another relative newbie in Toronto starter Todd Redmond. The right-hander recorded his first Major League win earlier this month, and has been steady despite not lasting longer than 5 2/3 innings in his three starts.

Redmond has only allowed eight runs over those starts, but four home runs during such short outings (14 2/3 innings combined) leave room for concern against a Houston lineup that's scored just one fewer run (14) than it had posted in the previous five games combined (15).

Astros: Bullpen struggling

With a reeling bullpen, what better remedy than a starter who gets you to the eighth inning? Despite Dallas Keuchel's late struggles, he lasted 7 1/3 innings on Saturday against Toronto, giving a struggling relief corps a respite and a confidence boost.

Houston's bullpen had allowed at least one earned run in 10 consecutive games before Saturday (since July 13), posting an 8.01 ERA over that span. Relievers had also given away several late leads -- including one to the Blue Jays, courtesy of an eight-run inning during Friday's 12-6 loss.

But Saturday only required five outs, and closer Jose Veras was up to the task for the extended save. Still, Houston manager Bo Porter said nobody should be surprised to see some changes down in the 'pen.

"I have a job to do to lead this team, and I can't be more point blank and clear than I've been," said Porter. "It's up to them to do a better job, and it's up to us to give them enough opportunity to where if they're not going to do a better job, then we need to go in another direction and find somebody else."

Blue Jays: Homers flying out of Rogers Centre

Rogers Centre has always been considered a hitter's ballpark, but this year it ranks among the best in all of baseball.

"It's always been a good hitter's park, but it seems like this year it's really taken off," said manager John Gibbons, who is well acquainted with the building -- having coached parts of eight seasons at the 25-year-old stadium.

During the last two games, which featured 32 total runs, the Astros and Blue Jays have combined to smash 12 homers.

Through 55 games, there have been 165 home runs hit at the Rogers Centre -- an average of three per game. AL East foe Baltimore sits second, with Camden Yards seeing 142 homers in 50 games.

Worth Noting
• Houston's eight runs on Saturday was the most runs the Astros scored since July 6 against Texas, and just the second time they've eclipsed the eight-run mark since June 18 -- a span of 31 games.

• Chris Carter's home run on Saturday was the 12th he's hit in away games this season, as opposed to seven at home. He's accrued 32 of his 51 RBIs this season during road games.

• Toronto is one of three MLB teams with a pair of players who currently have 20 or more home runs -- with Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista mashing 28 and 24, respectively.

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