HOUSTON – On the verge of being swept at home Sunday, the Houston Astros got a huge swing from an emerging talent.
Rookie Jeremy Pena hit a two-run homer in the 10th inning to lift the Astros to an 8-7 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Astros snapped a four-game skid and ended Toronto’s four-game winning streak.
“That was a big game for us to win,” manager Dusty Baker said. “You never want to get swept, especially at home. That was a big home run … boy, we needed that one badly.”
Kyle Tucker was on second as the automatic runner with one out when Pena connected off closer Jordan Romano (0-1) for a drive to center field. Romano had converted a franchise record 31 save chances in a row.
Pena, taking over as the Astros shortstop this season after the departure of Carlos Correa, hit his third home run of the year.
“It was awesome,” Pena said. “You want to feel like you contributed to the team. And I’m glad we got the (win).”
Romano leads the majors with eight saves this season and it was the first time he’s blown a save since April 8, 2021.
“That guy is a tough pitcher,” Baker said. “(Pena) got a good one, he got one of the best and also got his first walk-off hit, walk-off homer. That was great for our team, great for our city, and great for the fans that stuck around to see that ball game.”
Bo Bichette started the Toronto 10th on second before Bryan Abreu walked Vladimir Guerrero Jr. There was one out in the inning when Lourdes Gurriel Jr. doubled to the left field corner to make it 7-6.
Blake Taylor (1-1) got the win.
Michael Brantley hit a two-run homer to help the Astros salvage a 2-4 record in their first homestand of the season.
Zack Collins hit a three-run homer in the sixth and Gurriel added a solo home run for Toronto.
“We had a good road trip,” manager Charlie Montoyo said. “It’s fine. We’re not going to win every game. We came back and we were there until the end and we were closing the game.”
The Blue Jays had a chance to break a 6-all tie in the eighth with runners at first and second with no outs. Reliever Rafael Montero struck out the next two batters before Matt Chapman hit a grounder that Pena misplayed for an error that loaded the bases.
Montero still managed to escape the jam when Raimel Tapia grounded out.
The Astros also missed an opportunity in the eighth. Brantley doubled with one out on a ball that rolled past Gurriel in left field as he slid trying to make the catch. But Gurriel chased the ball down and threw out Brantley trying to stretch the hit.
Santiago Espinal hit an RBI double that put Toronto up 6-5 in the seventh.
The Astros were up by 3 with two outs in the sixth Collins launched his homer into the seats in right field off Luis Garcia to tie it at 5-all.
Garcia yielded five hits and five runs with six strikeouts in six innings.
Yusei Kikuchi gave up three hits and four runs – two earned – with five walks in 3 2/3 innings.
The Astros took an early lead after an error by Bichette helped them score two in the second.
Toronto didn’t have a baserunner until George Springer doubled to start the fourth before advancing to third on a groundout by Bichette. The Blue Jays cut the lead to 1 when Springer slid into home plate just ahead of the tag on a sacrifice fly by Guerrero.
There was one on and one out in the fourth when Brantley’s two-out shot to the corner of right field extended the lead to 4-1 and chased Kikuchi.
Gurriel Jr. sent Garcia’s first pitch of the fifth inning into the seats in left field to cut the lead to 4-2.
Yuli Gurriel doubled in the fifth and later scored when Pena reached on an error by first baseman Cavan Biggio.
Astros: 2B Jose Altuve (left hamstring strain) is improving and Baker said he was expected to hit in the cage Sunday and could hit on the field Monday. … Closer Ryan Pressly (knee) looked good throwing live batting practice Sunday and could be activated early next week.