After fighting an uphill battle for most of the year, the Houston Astros are in position to finally get back to .500.
The Astros can reach the break-even mark for the first time since the second game of the season when they open a three-game series Friday night against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park.
Houston (38-39) has won six of its last eight games overall and three of four in San Diego this week. The Astros got outstanding work from their starters, who went 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in the series.
“It was a good series for us,” Houston manager Cecil Cooper said. “Everybody contributed for us. For the first day in a long time, we got a big, big hit to kind of break things open.”
Houston’s starters are 6-1 with a 2.16 ERA over the last 12 games.
“The reason we have made this run is we’ve gotten great starting pitching, the bullpen has been pretty solid and we’ve scored enough runs to win,” Berkman told the Astros’ official Web site.
The Astros have a six-game winning streak over the Giants, with their bullpen allowing one run over 16 2-3 innings in that span.
San Francisco (42-36), though, is a much-improved team from last year’s club that won 72 games. The Giants are starting a 10-game homestand that will take them into the All-Star break after splitting 10 games on the road.
Both teams will start rookie right-handers Friday.
Paulino earned his first win as a starter since Sept. 30, 2007 on Saturday by surrendering one run over seven innings in an 8-1 victory over Detroit. He struck out a career-high nine.
“He was pretty dominant right from the start,” Cooper said. “That’s what we always thought that he could do, perhaps not nine punchouts and three hits, but a dominating performance. That was really outstanding.”
Paulino has never faced the Giants.
Sadowski was 5-2 with a 4.11 ERA in 13 starts for Triple-A Fresno before being recalled.
“I think the only one who wasn’t surprised was me,” Sadowski said. “I felt like I’ve gotten better throughout the year. I’ve pitched better in Fresno, I feel like I pitched better than my numbers were. I was very happy, but I wasn’t shocked.”