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Osuna earns save in return to Rogers Centre as Astros edge Jays

If Monday’s game marked the last for Marco Estrada in a Blue Jays uniform, he wasn’t pleased with how it ended.

Estrada, who’ll become a free agent at the end of the season, allowed four runs on seven hits — including two solo homers — as the Blue Jays fell 5-3 to the Houston Astros to open their final home series of the year.

“It’s the worst year I’ve had,” said Estrada, who dropped to 7-14 with the loss. “These last months, it’s sucked. It’s not the way I wanted to go out.

“I wanted to pitch better for Toronto and unfortunately I didn’t. It is what it is. All I can say is I was out there every five days and I gave it [my] all.”

Former Toronto closer Roberto Osuna pitched the ninth inning in his return to Rogers Centre, striking out a batter and working around a one-out single to earn his 19th save of the season.

Osuna, who was arrested in May and charged in connection with an alleged domestic incident, was met with a chorus of boos from the 23,463 fans when he was announced into the game — and as he threw each pitch.

‘It is what it is’

The 23-year-old right-hander was suspended without pay for 75 games in June for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy and traded to Houston at the deadline a month later.

Estrada didn’t want to talk about Osuna or his reception after the game.

“No, I don’t know. It is what it is,” Estrada said.

Osuna declined to speak to reporters after the game on the advice of his lawyer.

“I think he wanted the ball like he always does,” said Houston manager A.J. Hinch. “I’m sure it was emotional for him.

“It was pretty expected.”

Osuna’s court case is scheduled to continue Tuesday in Toronto.

Some of Osuna’s former teammates greeted him on the field during batting practice with hugs and handshakes. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said it was “real weird” to see Osuna in another uniform.

Mixed emotions

“Kind of mixed emotions but I knew there was a good chance he was probably going to get [the save]. I’ve seen him do it too many times.”

Brian McCann and Josh Reddick homered for the Astros (99-57). Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, and Yuli Gurriel, in his first pro game against his brother and Toronto shortstop Lourdes Gurriel Jr., also drove in runs.

The brotherly matchup didn’t last long — Lourdes left the game with left hamstring tightness after grounding into a double play in the first inning.

Dallas Keuchel (12-11) allowed three runs and seven hits while walking three and striking out five over five innings.

Estrada, who’s winless in his last six starts, lasted just 4 2/3 innings and also had a walk and a strikeout. He received an ovation from the crowd when he was pulled from the game in the fifth with two runners on base.

Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons takes starting pitcher Marco Estrada out of the game in the fifth inning. (Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press)

“I don’t know what’s going to happen next year but I gave [the fans] a quick thank you,” Estrada said. “They’ve always been behind me, they’re the greatest fans ever. How can I not be thankful?

“Hopefully it’s not my last [start] here but if it is I’m thankful for everything the fans have given me, for their support. I love it here, I love Toronto and I love the fans.”

Gibbons said his timing of pulling Estrada “had nothing to do with” wanting to give him a chance to salute the crowd.

“We had the lefties coming up and the game could have swung there with two guys on base,” he said. “I’m sentimental but not that sentimental.”

Pillar, Solarte get Jays on the board

Kevin Pillar hit a two-run homer for the Blue Jays (71-86) and Yangervis Solarte drove in a run.

Yuli Gurriel plated the first run in the first inning, extending his hit streak to 10 games with an RBI single, and Houston hit back-to-back solo shots in the second inning to bring the lead to 3-0.

Bregman’s double put the Astros up 4-0 in the third, but Pillar replied with a two-run shot in the fourth, sending the ball into the left-field seats to halve the deficit.

The Jays tacked on another run in the fifth but failed to take full advantage of a bases-loaded situation with no outs. Keuchel, hindered by a throwing error from J.D. Davis at third, loaded the bases with two singles and a walk before Solarte’s run-scoring hit. But Justin Smoak struck out on a borderline pitch with a full count, Randal Grichuk grounded out and Pillar went down swinging to end the frame.

Altuve hit an RBI single off Joe Biagini in the ninth.

CBC.ca

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