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TOR@HOU: Encarnacion belts a solo homer in the first

HOUSTON -- The Blue Jays traveled to Houston with the hopes of turning around their disappointing road trip against the last-place Astros, but instead hit a new low.

Toronto found itself down and out after the fourth inning of another lopsided defeat. It was the club's sixth consecutive loss and dropped its record on a current 10-game road trip to an ugly 1-7.

The Blue Jays once again scored first on an Edwin Encarnacion solo homer, but right-hander Todd Redmond proceeded to allow eight runs -- seven earned -- in a 12-4 loss to the worst team in the American League.

"I was just leaving the ball up, I wasn't making my pitches," Redmond said. "Any Major League team, if you leave the ball up, they're going to get hits.

"I would throw one good pitch and then I'd throw two bad pitches, and one of those two bad pitches would get hit. I just didn't have it tonight."

Redmond entered the game on a high after he allowed just one run over his past 11 1/3 innings, but that success was nowhere to be found against an offense that entered the evening ranked second worst in the AL with 483 runs scored.

The 28-year-old Redmond found himself in a jam during each inning. He seemed to have trouble keeping the ball down in the zone, and the Astros took advantage by hitting to all fields with a lot of authority.

Redmond allowed a pair of triples to nine-hole hitter Jonathan Villar and a solo homer in the second inning to Matt Dominguez. He was eventually pulled with one out in the fourth, but not before he allowed the eight runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out six.

"He has been pitching very good, tonight he just didn't have it," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "You see the replays on the board after giving up those hits, and the ball is just leaking back coming into their zone. He has been really good, that's kind of unusual for him."

Despite the rough outing, Redmond's spot in the starting rotation appears safe. Gibbons praised his previous success on a couple occasions after the game, and it appears as though the Blue Jays will stick with Redmond for at least one more start.

That should help ease the frustration Redmond feels when he wakes up Saturday, but in the immediate aftermath, it did little to console him.

"Any bad outing is frustrating," said Redmond, whose ERA jumped from 3.32 to 4.44. "It doesn't matter if you've been on a roll -- three bad outings in a row, or two good ones and then a bad one -- you just have to bounce back, go back out there in five days and do it again."

The short start meant another long night for the Blue Jays' bullpen and will leave the group short on innings when right-hander Chien-Ming Wang makes his return to the rotation from Triple-A on Saturday night.

To make matters worse, left-hander Aaron Loup is away from the team on a paternity leave, but Esmil Rogers should be able to eat up some innings, if needed, as the Blue Jays will skip his next start. The Blue Jays also optioned right-hander Brad Lincoln to Triple-A Buffalo after the game, and another reliever is expected to join the Major League club on Saturday.

Toronto's six consecutive losses have come despite the fact the club has opened the scoring in all but one of those affairs. On Friday night, it was Encarnacion who opened the scoring in the first inning with his team-leading 32nd homer of the season on a 2-2 pitch from right-hander Jordan Lyles.

Catcher J.P. Arencibia followed in the fourth with a solo shot to left field. That was Arencibia's second in as many games and enabled him to reach the 20-homer plateau for the second time in his four-year career. Brett Lawrie later added his 10th of the season with a two-run shot in the eighth inning. Lyles was charged with all four runs, surrendering 10 hits over 7 1/3 innings.

"The offense puts up runs in the first five innings, and it makes it a little bit easier to pitch just trying to attack guys," Lyles said. "My command wasn't there the first couple of innings, but we got that big lead, and all that pitching and stuff goes out the window. It's time to get quick outs."

The Blue Jays now find themselves a season-high 15 games below .500 as their second-half swoon continues. Toronto has dropped eight of its past 11 games and is 19-36 (.345) since winning 11 in a row from June 11-23, which is the third-lowest winning percentage in the Major Leagues in that time.

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