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Astros-Blue Jays Preview

AP - Sports

Mark Buehrle was terrific in his first start, coming one out shy of going the distance in an easy Blue Jays win.

He got all 27 the last time the Houston Astros visited Toronto.

Buehrle looks to build on his outstanding season debut Tuesday night while looking for a fourth dominant victory in as many career regular-season starts against the Astros.

The left-hander threw 8 2-3 innings of scoreless ball Wednesday at Tampa Bay, striking out 11 while walking only one in a 3-0 victory. It marked only the second time in Buehrle's 15-year career he had double-digit strikeouts.

''It was a tremendous game for him,'' manager John Gibbons said. ''A great effort, I don't know how else to describe it.

''That ball was running, ducking, and darting."

Buehrle is 3-0 with a 0.72 ERA in the regular season against Houston, going at least eight innings in all three outings and tossing a two-hitter in a 4-0 win at Rogers Centre on July 25. He also earned a save against the Astros in the 2005 World Series while pitching for the Chicago White Sox.

The Blue Jays (3-4) could use another solid performance from Buehrle after losing three of four since his start. Many of the problems have been at the plate, as Toronto ranks near the bottom of the AL in both batting average (.216) and on-base percentage (.277).

The Astros (3-4) counter with fellow lefty Brett Oberholtzer, who allowed three runs over 5 2-3 innings Thursday in a 4-2 loss to the Yankees. Oberholtzer has never faced the Blue Jays.

Houston's Jarred Cosart gave up three runs in the first inning of Monday's 9-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels as the Astros' rough stretch at the plate continued. They scored one run for the third time in four games and were outhit 45-22 in dropping three of four to the Angels.

They're hopeful the return of center fielder Dexter Fowler will spark the offense. Fowler, who went 6 of 12 with five runs scored in Houston's first three games, has been out since Friday because of a stomach virus.

Though still not 100 percent, he will join the team in Toronto and look to be a difference-maker at the top of the order if doctors clear him to play.

"I'm pretty weak right now," Fowler told the team's official website. "I'm going to see if I can eat some food now. I haven't eaten in three days. It's all been liquids and rice and stuff. I'm getting better and just happy everything has slowed down a little bit and I can go out there and be with the team."

Toronto has hit eight homers accounting for 12 of its 22 runs thus far, and its leadoff hitter has provided nearly half of those. Melky Cabrera homered in all three games against the Yankees over the weekend, matching his total from 88 games last season.

Toronto won three of four at home against the Astros in 2013.

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