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Altuve, Keuchel pair up to down Blue Jays

MLB.com

HOUSTON -- The Astros got home runs from George Springer, Jose Altuve and Luis Valbuena to back left-hander Dallas Keuchel and win their third in a row, 8-4, over the Blue Jays on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

"Every time we hit two or three homers we're going to score runs, and with our pitching staff, we're going to have a lot of chances to win games," said Altuve, whose three-run shot in the fourth inning was his fifth homer of the season.

Full Game Coverage

HOUSTON -- The Astros got home runs from George Springer, Jose Altuve and Luis Valbuena to back left-hander Dallas Keuchel and win their third in a row, 8-4, over the Blue Jays on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

"Every time we hit two or three homers we're going to score runs, and with our pitching staff, we're going to have a lot of chances to win games," said Altuve, whose three-run shot in the fourth inning was his fifth homer of the season.

Full Game Coverage

Keuchel (5-0) held Toronto to eight hits and four runs in six-plus innings to extend his career-high winning streak to seven games, dating to last season. Keuchel carried a 7-1 lead into the sixth before the Blue Jays scored three on a two-run double by Danny Valencia and an RBI single by Chris Colabello.

Video: TOR@HOU: Colabello singles in a run to right field

The Astros rocked Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey (1-5) for 10 hits and seven runs in five innings. Dickey gave up three in the second before Springer led off the third with a solo shot, and Altuve cranked a three-run blast to left in the fourth to make it 7-1. Valbuena hit his team-leading ninth homer to lead off the seventh.

Video: TOR@HOU: Valbuena crushes a solo homer to right

"I felt like I had, at times, a really good knuckleball," Dickey said. "All of a sudden, it would get pounced on. A ball rolled through the hole and the next guy hits a home run and it snowballs. … It can be really infuriating."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Keuchel wins again: The lefty gave up four runs and eight hits for the second start in a row, but he was still able to improve to 5-0 by winning his career-high seventh consecutive decision dating to last season. He's allowed more earned runs in his last two starts than he did in his first five starts of the season, but he's won both of them. More >

Video: TOR@HOU: Keuchel fans five, gets win vs. Blue Jays

Leaving 'em stranded: The Blue Jays pushed Keuchel, but they still never struck the big blow, especially with golden opportunities in the third and seventh frames. After the Astros jumped out to a 3-0 lead, Toronto put runners on second and third with one out and had the bases loaded with two outs in the third, but they managed only a single run on Josh Donaldson's RBI infield single. With a six-run Houston lead cut to 7-4, the Blue Jays had two on with no outs in the seventh. Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion couldn't even get a ball out of the infield, as Donaldson whiffed, Bautista popped out and Encarnacion struck out. Toronto went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position during those two innings. More >

Video: TOR@HOU: Donaldson hits an RBI single to third

Harris mows down heart of Toronto order: Right-hander Will Harris stepped into a more pressure-packed role than he had been getting used when he inherited a pair of runners in the seventh inning with the Astros nursing a 7-4 lead. All Harris did was strike out Donaldson, retire Bautista on a pop up and strike out Encarnacion -- the Jays' 2-3-4 in the order -- to help preserve the win. More >

Video: TOR@HOU: Harris strikes out Encarnacion in the 7th

Knuckle struggles: Dickey was again less than stellar, allowing a pair of home runs in a game for the fourth time in his last six outings. Though he broke his 15 2/3-inning strikeout-less streak with three K's, the Astros handed him a fifth loss in six decisions and upped his ERA by nearly a full point.

"I don't have all the answers right now," he said. Springer and Altuve's homers were emblematic of Dickey's issues, with a flat, spinning version of the knuckler tumbling in the zone for power hitters to pounce on.

QUOTABLE
"I like the aggressiveness and the intensity that he brings in at-bats where he can do a lot of damage with guys on base." -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch on Altuve, who didn't hit his fifth homer last year until Aug. 11

Video: TOR@HOU: Hinch on Keuchel and Altuve in 8-4 win

"It's a mechanical tweak, it's being able to execute. Throwing a knuckleball is not an easy craft." -- Dickey, trying to assess his recent struggles

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Astros outfielder Preston Tucker is the first rookie in team history with back-to-back games of at least two doubles.

Donaldson's infield single marked his 33rd consecutive game reaching base safely against Houston. That's the longest active streak in the Majors for any player facing one team.

WHAT'S NEXT
Blue Jays: Toronto is in desperate need of consistency from the rotation, and Marco Estrada will be the latest to attempt that task as the series continues in Houston at 7:10 p.m. ET. Though he's been perhaps the most dependable Blue Jays starter, some old home run habits have crept up of late, as he allowed a pair of first-inning homers in his last start. He is 1-2 since joining the rotation on April 28.

Astros: Scott Feldman will start Saturday's 6:10 p.m. CT game Saturday against the Blue Jays at Minute Maid Park. He's coming off one of his best outings of the season, throwing seven scoreless innings and allowing three runs in a loss to the Angels on Sunday. He has given the Astros quality starts in five of his seven outings this year and 12 of 14 dating to last year.

Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.

Chris Abshire is a contributor to MLB.com. Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Jose Altuve, R.A. Dickey, Josh Donaldson, Dallas Keuchel, George Springer, Danny Valencia