The Houston Astros have been a disappointment thus far this season, but they’re still hoping to get back into the playoff hunt.
The Astros look to continue their recent resurgence as they continue a three-game series with the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros were supposed to be contenders in the NL Central this season, but with the second half of the season in full swing, they find themselves in third place, 13 1/2 games behind first-place St. Louis.
However, Houston beat the Braves 3-2 on Tuesday, winning their third straight and moving two games above .500 for the first time since July 9. The Astros are four games behind the Chicago Cubs and San Diego for the wild card.
“Beating a good pitcher like (Atlanta starter Russ) Ortiz is big for us,” Houston manager Phil Garner said. “Atlanta’s been hot. It’s another reason to believe we’re getting hot.”
The Astros have won nine of their last 13 games. They have scored at least five runs in each of those victories except for Tuesday’s, while their pitching has held opponents to three or fewer runs in eight of the wins.
Craig Biggio homered, and Morgan Ensburg and Jose Vizcaino drove in runs for Houston. Roger Clemens allowed just two runs and four hits in seven innings, but was denied a victory when reliever Dan Miceli allowed a run in the eighth inning.
Chipper Jones and Andruw Jones drove in runs for the Braves, who had a five-game winning streak snapped. Reliever Chris Reitsma was charged with the loss after Ortiz allowed just two runs in seven innings.
“If you’re going to lose, it’s good to lose a good game like this,” Atlanta’s Julio Franco said. “It’s not like we were out there falling down and making mistakes.”
Atlanta’s starters have not been charged with a loss since Paul Byrd fell 4-3 to Pittsburgh on July 21.