The Astros look to improve to 5-0 against the Pirates as the teams continue a three-game series Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.
While Houston (33-51) has one of the worst records in the major leagues, it is 16-12 against the NL Central, including 4-0 against Pittsburgh (30-53). The Astros posted a 6-2 win over the Pirates on Tuesday, snapping a three-game overall losing streak during which they totaled two runs and got shut out twice.
Houston has scored at least five runs in each of its last six games against teams from its own division. It’s among the lowest-scoring teams in the majors overall this season with 3.5 runs per game, but it has outscored Pittsburgh 25-10 while batting .313 over their four meetings.
Carlos Lee(notes) and Lance Berkman(notes) homered Tuesday and Wandy Rodriguez(notes) struck out 10 in seven innings. Lee, who is 5 for 13 with three extra-base hits and five RBIs in three games against the Pirates, came in batting .125 in his previous four games. He had not homered since June 12.
Lee and the Astros will try to clinch the series win Wednesday against a Pittsburgh team that continues to struggle on the road. Although the Pirates came in having won five of seven, they have averaged 2.4 runs while dropping 19 of their last 21 on the road.
That could be a good sign for Brian Moehler(notes) (1-4, 5.20 ERA), who will take the mound for Houston. Moehler gave up one run in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-3, 10-inning win over San Diego on Friday. He has a 2.70 ERA over his last three starts.
The right-hander is 1-1 with a 2.95 ERA in the last three starts against Pittsburgh.
The Pirates, who have lost 14 of their last 17 at Minute Maid Park, will hand the ball to Daniel McCutchen(notes) (1-3, 8.87), who may be losing his spot in the rotation when Zach Duke(notes) returns from the disabled list after the All-Star break.
McCutchen gave up two runs - one earned - in 5 1-3 innings of a 3-2 win over Philadelphia on Thursday. It was his second start since being recalled from the minors to replace Duke. The right-hander gave up four runs in six innings of a 5-0 loss to Oakland on June 26.
McCutchen pitched one scoreless inning of relief against Houston on April 24 for his only time facing the Astros.