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Down 5 early, Astros walk off on Bregman HR

Gattis sets franchise record; Keuchel works back from rough start
MLB.com

HOUSTON -- Alex Bregman's series against the Blue Jays, featuring seven extra-base hits in the final two games and the second of his two walk-off hits since June 18, was one of the most remarkable stretches by any player in Astros history.

Bregman, the Astros' red-hot third baseman, blasted a walk-off two-run home run in the ninth inning of Wednesday's 7-6 win at Minute Maid Park, collecting his seventh extra-base hit in his past two games and capping the series by homering in a third straight game. Bregman's drive picked up a Houston club that was knocked down early in the game by Toronto's five-run first inning off starter Dallas Keuchel.

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HOUSTON -- Alex Bregman's series against the Blue Jays, featuring seven extra-base hits in the final two games and the second of his two walk-off hits since June 18, was one of the most remarkable stretches by any player in Astros history.

Bregman, the Astros' red-hot third baseman, blasted a walk-off two-run home run in the ninth inning of Wednesday's 7-6 win at Minute Maid Park, collecting his seventh extra-base hit in his past two games and capping the series by homering in a third straight game. Bregman's drive picked up a Houston club that was knocked down early in the game by Toronto's five-run first inning off starter Dallas Keuchel.

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Bregman is the first Astro to hit five doubles in a two-game span. He's the third player in Astros franchise history, along with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio in 1999 and Cesar Cedeno in '73, to record three or more extra-base hits in consecutive games, continuing one of the best short-term stretches of his career.

"Since I've been here, it's probably one of the best," Bregman said.

Bregman, who knocked three doubles and a two-run home run on Tuesday night, barreled two doubles and another homer on Wednesday afternoon, this one his second game-winning hit since June 18. It was the first walk-off homer of Bregman's career.

Video: Must C Clutch: Bregman's first career walk-off homer

"Bregman's pretty locked in the last couple of days," Keuchel said. "That's what he provides for our team, moments in the clutch."

"He's on fire right now," said Blue Jays reliever and Bregman's friend Ryan Tepera, who gave up the game-winning shot just months after training with Bregman in the offseason.

Toronto soured Keuchel's start with a handful of early runs, by far the left-hander's rockiest inning this season. Entering Wednesday's start, Keuchel held a 7.31 first-inning ERA.

Keuchel allowed five of the six earned runs charged to him to score in the opening frame, positioning Toronto to give Houston its first series loss since a May 28-30 set against the Yankees.

From the second to fifth innings, Keuchel retired 12 of the 13 batters he faced, giving the Astros time to erase the damage that Toronto's right-handed-only lineup did against Houston's lone left-handed starter.

"Dallas' ability to collect himself and keep that game remotely close after our offense scores three runs to respond to their five runs, can't say enough about how he changed his game plan," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "[He was] just putting up zeroes to allow us to make it a game."

Evan Gattis tallied three RBIs on a pair of doubles, including a two-run double in the first inning and an one-run double in the fifth. Gattis' fifth-inning double gave him 30 RBIs so far in June, which surpassed the 29 June RBIs held by Jim Wynn (1967) and Jose Cruz ('84) and set a new franchise record for the month.

Video: TOR@HOU: Gattis' RBI double sets Astros record

Marwin Gonzalez ended a strenuous six-game stretch without a hit by knocking a solo home run into the Astros' bullpen in the eighth inning. Gonzalez's homer, his sixth on the season, brought Houston within one run.

Video: TOR@HOU: Gonzalez skies a solo home run to left

The Astros (54-28) nearly dropped their first series to a team with a sub-.500 record for the first time since they lost two of three to the Rangers in mid-April. But for the third time since June 18, Houston walked off.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
All nine Blue Jays faced Keuchel in the first inning. Randal Grichuk knocked a leadoff double, Teoscar Hernandez walked, Yangervis Solarte doubled and Steve Pearce walked before an out was recorded. The lengthy frame helped limit Keuchel to 5 1/3 innings on the afternoon, though he didn't allow another run until the sixth.

"They just hunted his fastball," Hinch said.

Video: TOR@HOU: Diaz sends an RBI single up the middle

SOUND SMART
Wednesday's five-run comeback was the Astros' largest deficit faced in a come-from-behind win. Previously, their most was a four-run comeback on June 18 against the Rays, which Bregman ended with a walk-off two-run double. Bregman's walk-off hit Wednesday was his third this season, which is the most in the Major Leagues.

UP NEXT
Lance McCullers Jr. (8-3, 3.82 ERA) will the get the ball to open the Astros' four-game series against the Rays at 6:10 p.m. CT on Thursday at Tropicana Field. McCullers has lasted six or more innings in his past five starts. The weekend set marks Houston's first trip back to St. Petersburg since Hurricane Harvey relocated a home series last August. Reliever Ryne Stanek (1-1, 1.99) will open the game for Tampa Bay.

Christian Boutwell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston.

Houston Astros, Alex Bregman