BUFFALO, N.Y. - J.A. Happ allowed one run on four hits in 4 2/3 innings in a rehab start for the Buffalo Bisons Thursday night, continuing his comeback from lower back tightness.
Happ, the Toronto Blue Jays left-hander who has been on the disabled list since March 30, struck out six and walked two against the Pawtucket Red Sox. He threw 63 of his 90 pitches for strikes.
Buffalo was held to six hits — two by Munenori Kawasaki — and Anthony Gose scored twice in a 7-4 loss.
It was Happ's second straight solid outing during his minor league assignment. He struck out five batters in a five-inning outing with single-A Dunedin on Saturday against Clearwater and allowed two runs on three hits.
Back-to-back productive starts are a welcome development for Happ, who posted a 20.57 earned run average in four starts in spring training.
Against Pawtucket, Happ picked up two strikeouts in the first, second and fourth innings. In the third, he allowed a hit and a walk with one out and escaped damage by getting Ryan Lavarnway to ground into a double play.
Happ yielded a leadoff homer in the fourth to Brandon Snyder, then followed up with back-to-back strikeouts.
In the fifth, Happ had two runners on with one out and induced a bloop pop-out to Alex Hassan, but then was replaced by Marcus Walden, who got the final out to keep the game deadlocked at 1-1.
Pawtucket struck for five runs in the seventh, all with two out, saddling Walden (0-1) with the loss.
Happ's back issues prevented him from earning the Blue Jays' fifth-starter slot, which went to Dustin McGowan. Once Happ is healthy enough to head back to Toronto, it's uncertain where the 31-year-old will be utilized.
Despite starting 18 major league games last year, Happ's 2013 season was marred by a skull fracture and sprained knee suffered in his seventh start. The injuries forced him to miss three months of action.
This year, Happ has stated his desire to be part of the rotation.