Erik Bedard likely is hoping a return to his native Canada will also be the end of his four-start losing streak as the Houston Astros begin a 10-game road trip.
The Toronto Blue Jays, though, aren't finding home to be all that cozy as they'll look to end a six-game losing streak at Rogers Centre and a seven-game skid overall in Thursday night's series opener between last-place clubs.
Bedard (3-7, 4.41 ERA), who will be making his first start in Ontario since 2007, suggested a hockey-themed team flight to Toronto, where Houston (34-66) begins an extended trip that also has stops in Baltimore and Minnesota.
The left-hander, though, has walked 18 in 23 innings during his losing streak. He had 10 strikeouts and a no-hitter going when he exited with one out in the seventh inning against Seattle on Saturday, but his five walks led to three runs - one earned - and he ended up suffering a 4-2 defeat.
Despite not allowing a hit, Bedard had thrown 109 pitches, matching the same number he threw in his previous start - a 5-0 loss to Tampa Bay on July 14.
"I've had three shoulder surgeries,' Bedard said. ``I'm not going over 110 (pitches). I'd rather pitch a couple more years than face another batter.'
Bedard is 0-3 with a 5.40 ERA in his last seven starts against Toronto, but he hasn't faced the club since last pitching at Rogers Centre six years ago. He's had some success against current Blue Jays hitters, though, as Melky Cabrera is just 3 for 21 lifetime off Bedard.
He'll look to help get the Astros on track after they fell 4-3 to Oakland on Wednesday for their 17th defeat in 21 games.
"We're going to play a long road trip, but it's also against some good teams," first baseman Brett Wallace said. "We just need to go out there and stay focused and just try to win every series."
The Blue Jays (45-55) have been swept in both of their series since the All-Star break, each coming in Toronto as part of their 10-game homestand that ends Sunday.
They were one out away from victory Wednesday, but Colby Rasmus' error in center field allowed the tying run to score in the ninth before the Dodgers exploded for a five-run 10th to win 8-3.
The Blue Jays haven't lost eight straight overall since a nine-game skid from May 19-27, 2009, and they haven't suffered a seven-game home losing streak since dropping their first eight of 2004.
"I thought we were rock bottom last night,' manager John Gibbons said, referring to his club blowing a five-run lead in Tuesday's 10-9 loss. "I guess not.'
Starter Mark Buehrle will try to end some personal struggles, as his last two starts haven't gone very well.
Buehrle (5-7, 4.83) allowed eight runs - his most in four years - through six innings of an 8-5 loss at Baltimore on July 12, then gave up four runs and a season worst-tying 10 hits in seven frames of Saturday's 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay.
After going 3-1 with a 2.13 ERA from May 22-June 19, Buehrle is 1-3 with a 5.52 ERA over his last five outings.
"I can't pinpoint what's going on. It's frustrating," Buehrle said.
The left-hander hasn't faced the Astros since allowing one run in eight innings of a 6-3 win June 10, 2007, while pitching for the White Sox.
Houston has won five of six all-time meetings with Toronto.
The Associated Press News Service
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