By Christian Boutwell and Brian McTaggart
HOUSTON -- If ever a team needed a little pick-me-up, it was the Astros.
In danger of losing a second consecutive series at home, the Astros rallied for four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday afternoon, capped by Juan Centeno's two-out, walk-off RBI single off Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna to win, 7-6, in front of 36,300 at Minute Maid Park. The victory finished off a big weekend in Houston that also featured the club honoring Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell the day before.
"It's nice to end a homestand on a better note than we've been playing," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "When you get a walk-off against one of the best closers in the league, we go from a pretty down flight to a pretty happy flight. However improbable it was, our guys kept fighting."
Alex Bregman's two-run triple, also with two outs, tied the game and set the stage for Centeno, who shot a single over first base to win it and give the Astros a series win over Toronto. In his only two other starts for the Astros this year (in May), Centeno homered in both.
"It's amazing," Centeno said. "I tried to get a good pitch to hit. Bregman had a big hit right there to tie the game and I had the mindset to get a pitch up in the zone. I put a good swing on it."
The Astros improved to 71-40 and have a 15-game lead over the Mariners in the American League West after Seattle split its doubleheader vs. Kansas City on Sunday.
Bregman's triple into the left-center field gap tied the game, with 40-year-old Carlos Beltran scoring all the way from first base. Bregman has logged an extra-base hit in eight consecutive games, tying the third-longest streak in franchise history.
"We didn't have the homestand we wanted to, but hopefully this gives us a little energy on the road," Bregman said. "We need to keep doing what we're doing. We're 31 games above .500 . There's going to be ups and downs throughout the season, and we need to stay the course."
The Blue Jays fell to 42-5 when leading after eight innings.
"Yeah, it's extremely frustrating," said Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman, who scattered a season-high 11 hits in 6 2/3 innings. "There's no other word for it, I don't think. It's a frustrating loss for us."
Toronto entered the bottom of the ninth with a 6-3 lead thanks to two-run homers from Jose Bautista and Norichika Aoki, who made his first start for the Blue Jays after being traded from the Astros on Monday, and Justin Smoak's two-run double.
But Jose Altuve welcomed Osuna with his third single of the game to start the bottom of the ninth, and after Josh Reddick struck out -- leading to an ejection over an argument with home-plate umpire Rob Drake -- Yuli Gurriel and Marwin Gonzalez both singled to load the bases.
"Things like that happen in baseball," said Osuna, who had picked up his 28th save Saturday night. "I think against Altuve and Gurriel, I made good pitches. But except that, I think I missed my spots."
"We liked our guy on the mound," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. "He's our closer. Generally, you don't think they're going to score three or four, whatever it is. But it happens. We've done that a few times ourselves. But when things get rolling, they don't let you up. It's a deep lineup, right-handed, left-handed. Then they got caught up in it and got some big hits."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Beltran legs it out: Beltran had three hits on Sunday -- his fourth three-hit game of the season -- but his most impressive contribution came in the ninth inning, when he beat out a potential double-play ball and then scored all the way from first base with the tying run on Bregman's triple into the left-center-field gap.
"There's two outs, so my job is to try to get a good secondary lead and hopefully score on that play right there," Beltran said. "When the ball was hit, I know it was going to be in the corner and it was a long run for Aoki and the center fielder. I'm looking at the third-base coach and I know I had to go home. I gave it everything I had." More >
Norichika is A-ok: Aoki, who began the year as the Astros' starting left fielder before being traded, made his first start for the Blue Jays and put them ahead, 4-3, in the seventh inning with a two-run homer. He struck out in his first two at-bats against Astros starter Mike Fiers before delivering his third homer of the season, and only his second since homering for Houston on April 14. The homer had an exit velocity of 99.5 mph and traveled a projected 397 feet into the Astros' bullpen, according to Statcast™.
"He owns me," Fiers said. "Some matchup or whatever I do, he sees the ball well off me. Even though I got him twice, which is crazy, he got me in the end, which was a big moment for him. He's got a little power, and it was a big hit for him." More >
With one out in the fourth inning, the Blue Jays challenged an out call at second base, questioning whether Altuve obtained the ball while having a foot on second base. Officially, the out call on the field stood after a one-minute, 45-second review.
WHAT'S NEXT Blue Jays: Lefty J.A. Happ (4-8, 3.92 ERA) will begin the Blue Jays' three-game series against the Yankees at 7:07 p.m. ET on Tuesday at Rogers Centre. In his first August start, Happ tossed seven innings of one-run ball and struck out 10 vs. the White Sox on Wednesday.
Astros: After Monday's off-day, the Astros begin a three-game series in Chicago against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Ace lefty Dallas Keuchel (9-1, 2.15 ERA) will start Tuesday's 7:10 p.m. CT series opener.