Tampa Bay (22-36) at Houston (33-27)

Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 72° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Fri Jun 6, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Looking to stay unbeaten in interleague play this season, the Houston Astros might be without Jeff Kent when they open a three-game set against the visiting Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Kent, the Astros’ homer run and RBI leader this season, left Thursday’s game in the fifth inning with a sore right quad.

His status for Friday’s game is unknown.

The Astros didn’t have any trouble completing the sweep of the Baltimore Orioles, posting an 11-1 victory. Houston, which went 5-7 against the American League last season, outscored the Orioles 28-11 in the series.

Brian Hunter and Morgan Ensberg drove in four runs apiece for the Astros, who won their fourth in a row overall to remain tied atop the NL Central with the Chicago Cubs.

Ensberg, a part-time third baseman, went 3-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to seven games. He is batting .625 (10-for-16) with four homers and 12 RBIs.

The Devil Rays come in having lost two of three to the Cubs, including Thursday’s 8-1 decision.

Aubrey Huff drove in the lone run for Tampa Bay, which lost for the eighth time in its last 11. Huff finished 2-for-4, extending his hitting streak to seven games.

Rocco Baldelli, Tampa’s leading hitter, was given the day off.

Friday’s game will mark the return of Julio Lugo to Houston. The second baseman was released May 6 after being charged with misdemeanor assault on his wife. The Devil Rays signed him on May 15.

“I’m going to go there to play and whatever happens, happens,” said Lugo, who is batting .246 (16-for-65) with four RBIs for the Devil Rays. “I got along with the guys real well. It’s going to be hard to be on the visiting side.”

STANDINGS: Devil Rays - 5th place, 11 1/2 GB, AL East. Astros - 1st place (tied), NL Central.

DEVIL RAYS PROBABLE STARTER: Nick Bierbrodt (0-2, 8.13 ERA). Bierbrodt, who hasn’t started since April 20, has made eight straight relief appearances, giving up 10 earned runs and 23 hits over 20 1-3 innings. He is 0-2 with a 13.40 ERA in his four starts this season. Bierbrodt is 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA in his career against Houston.

ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Jeriome Robertson (4-3, 6.08 ERA). Robertson is 3-0 with a 3.14 ERA in his last three starts, including a 9-3 road victory over the Cubs on Sunday. The 26-year-old left-hander gave up two earned runs and four hits over six innings to remain unbeaten since April 25. Robertson has never faced the Devil Rays.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Devil Rays - Baldelli, .336 avg.; Baldelli and Huff, 32 RBIs; Huff, 14 HRs and 36 runs; Carl Crawford, 15 SBs. Astros - Kent, .324 avg. and 43 RBIs; Jeff Bagwell, 11 HRs; Lance Berkman, 41 runs; Adam Everett, 6 SBs.

INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Devil Rays - 1-2; Astros 3-0.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Devil Rays - Tampa Bay was 7-11 in interleague play last season. … Tampa Bay has drawn a major league-low 143 walks this season. … 3B Jason Smith, who was called up from the minors Wednesday after Damion Easley was released, was 1-for-4 Thursday but committed two errors. Astros - Thursday marked the ninth time OF Hunter has collected four hits and the second time he has had four RBIs in a game in his career. … CF Craig Biggio left Thursday’s game with a bruised left calf after being hit by a pitch in the fifth inning. … RHP Brad Lidge has pitched 25 scoreless innings in 29 appearances this season. … LF Berkman is batting .617 (29-for-47) during a 12-game hitting streak with four homers, three doubles, a triple and 10 RBIs.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Devil Rays - 10-20 on the road; Astros - 19-12 at home.

INJURIES: Devil Rays - LHP Joe Kennedy (shoulder), 15-day DL; SS Rey Ordonez (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Seth McClung (elbow), 15-day DL. Astros - OF Richard Hidalgo (virus), 15-day DL; LHP Carlos Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Moehler (forearm), 15-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

N. Bierbrodt Bal vs. J. Robertson NYM
0-2 Record 15-9
9.14 ERA 5.10
29 K 99
27 BB 64
2.10 WHIP 1.52