After losing eight in a row to open this season, the Houston Astros bounced back with a flurry of victories.
Following the end to another eight-game slide, the Astros are looking to repeat that trend, but they won’t have an easy matchup Thursday night.
In the finale of a four-game series at Minute Maid Park, Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Dan Haren(notes) will try to win his fourth straight start over the Astros and earn his third victory in a row overall.
Houston (9-18) avoided matching its worst start in franchise history with a 5-1 victory in St. Louis on April 15 and earned another seven wins over its next nine games.
Houston, though, fell back into another deep funk after that, scoring only 13 runs in eight straight defeats. The Astros had two runs heading into the ninth inning Wednesday until Carlos Lee(notes) hit his first home run of the season.
Lee has hit one of his 308 career homers off Haren (3-1, 4.50 ERA), but is 2 for 11 overall against the right-hander.
His teammates haven’t been all that successful either lately versus Haren.
The right-hander has a 2.66 ERA during his three straight wins over the Astros, but all of those have come in Arizona. He hasn’t pitched in Houston since Sept. 28, 2004, but is 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA there.
Haren could earn his first win at Minute Maid if he can continue his string of solid road outings, having gone 1-0 with a 3.10 ERA in three starts. Despite waking up with an upset stomach Saturday in Chicago, he allowed three runs and 10 hits over six innings but was denied a third win in as many starts as the Diamondbacks bullpen blew a two-run lead in a 7-5 loss.
“I didn’t feel great, but I got through it and gave it all I could,” Haren told the team’s website.
His counterpart in Thursday’s game, Wandy Rodriguez(notes) (1-3, 3.64), will try to avoid dropping his fourth straight start to Arizona. The left-hander has a 8.78 ERA in those games and is 2-4 with a 5.64 ERA in six lifetime outings against the Diamondbacks (13-15).
After earning his first win April 24 against Pittsburgh, Rodriguez was on the wrong end of a 10-1 defeat in Atlanta on Saturday. After having his start pushed back a day due to back spasms, he gave up five runs - two earned - and 10 hits in five innings.
“We gave them six outs in the fifth,” manager Brad Mills(notes) told the Astros’ website. “I thought (Rodriguez) battled through really well, especially the first few innings. He was able to mix his pitches with the curveball and the changeup really well.”
Haren hasn’t won three straight since a season-high, four-start streak last June 30-July 18.