Erik Bedard is coming home.
The Astros left-hander and Ontario native makes his fifth career start -- and first since 2007 -- in his home country in Thursday's series opener against the Blue Jays and fellow lefty Mark Buehrle.
Bedard, 34, has a 4.05 ERA in his previous four starts at Rogers Centre but returns to Toronto in the midst of one of his best stretches in some time. The 10-year veteran is coming off an impressive outing in which he tossed 6 1/3 hitless innings and struck out 10 against the Mariners.
Although he left with a no-hitter intact -- it was eventually lost, along with the game -- Bedard said he had no desire to chase history.
"I've had three shoulder surgeries, so I'm not going over 110," Bedard said after throwing 109 pitches. "I'd rather pitch a couple more years than face another batter."
Thursday's opener also marks the beginning of a 10-game road trip for the last-place Astros, who hope to make it count.
"We're going to play a long road trip, but it's also against some good teams," Houston's Brett Wallace said. "Toronto is a talented team, and then we're going to Baltimore and then Minnesota. Those are all teams that have a lot of talent. We just need to go out there and stay focused and just try to win every series."
The Astros' first test comes against a talented but struggling Blue Jays squad that experienced yet another gut-wrenching loss on Wednesday, failing to beat the Dodgers despite leading in the ninth. That loss was the Blue Jays' seventh straight and second since Tuesday's players-only meeting.
"If people listen, maybe there's some good to come out of it," Toronto reliever Casey Janssen said of the meeting. "If it doesn't, I guess we're not worse off than we were before. Hopefully we come together, hopefully everyone realizes that we have each other's backs and that we haven't quit.
"There are guys in this room that genuinely care about the season, care about each other. If nothing else, for the most part we're kind of tired of seeing the product that we're seeing on the field."
Astros: Hockey-themed flight up north
The Astros' theme for the first part of their 10-day road trip revolved around Canada's favorite sport, as the Astros' traveling party was to wear hockey jerseys on its flight to Toronto.
• The Astros finished 1-5 on their recently-completed six-game homestand.
Blue Jays: Buehrle looks to snap streak
The Blue Jays look to snap their losing streak on Thursday behind Buehrle, who suffered the loss last time out despite notching his 11th quality start of the season. The left-hander's lone career start against the Astros came in 2007.
• The four-game series will showcase some serious backstop power, as Blue Jays catchers lead the American League with 17 home runs, and Houston's are tied for second with 16.
• Bedard has allowed two runs or fewer in nine of his last 13 starts, during which he's sporting a 3.55 ERA.
• The Blue Jays have lost nine of their last 12 home games.
• The Astros are 14-16 in one-run games.