Guerrero Jr. hits MLB-leading 18th homer as Blue Jays defeat Astros

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Joe Panik homered, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Houston Astros 6-2 on Saturday.

Panik’s tiebreaking three-run shot off Jose Urquidy gave Toronto a 4-1 lead in the fourth inning. Guerrero connected in the fifth, sending a two-run drive deep to left for his 18th homer.

Guerrero finished with three hits, raising his batting average to .338. The 22-year-old first baseman also cut down Jose Altuve at third base in the first inning and scored from second on a Lourdes Gurriel Jr. single in the fourth.

“Whatever I have to do for the team to win, I’ll do that,” Guerrero said through an interpreter. “I’m not thinking or paying attention to [statistics]. It’s a long season and you never know what can happen. I’m focused at the moment, and just trying to keep producing and help the team win.”

“The way he’s playing first and the way he’s hitting, he’s one of the best players in baseball right now,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said.

Ross Stripling pitched five innings of one-run ball for the Blue Jays, who improved to 3-1 at their temporary home in Buffalo. Stripling (2-3) allowed seven hits, struck out four and walked one.

Carlos Correa had three hits for the Astros, who won 13-1 in the series opener Friday night. Myles Straw drove in two runs.

Urquidy (4-3) was tagged for a season-high six runs in 4 1/3 innings. He allowed two or fewer earned runs in seven of his previous nine starts this season.

“He was finding too much of the plate,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “He was throwing almost too many strikes. You hit the heart of the plate, something bad’s going to happen.”

Toronto’s bullpen, an area of concern in recent weeks, put together a solid day. Tim Mayza got three outs before Trent Thornton worked two scoreless innings. Rafael Doliz allowed a run in the ninth before closing it out.

“Pitching and defense wins in the big leagues,” Montoyo said. “When you play teams like that, you have to play flawless and play your `A’ game. We pitched good, played defense, and of course, we hit.”

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