The left-hander looks to win his fourth straight start while trying to help the Astros earn a sixth consecutive home victory and hand the Los Angeles Dodgers a season-high seventh loss in a row Friday night.
Happ (6-2, 2.86 ERA) went 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA during a breakout 2009 season with Philadelphia, but missed three months this season with a forearm strain. The Phillies then traded Happ to Houston for ace Roy Oswalt(notes) on July 29, and he has not disappointed.
Happ has given up more than three runs once while going 5-2 with a 3.21 ERA in eight starts for Houston (67-73).
He has allowed four runs and 13 hits over 22 1-3 innings to win his last three starts.
“I’m starting to get dialed in more and more as each outing goes with the command,” said Happ, who threw a scoreless two-thirds of an inning of relief in his only appearance against the Dodgers last season.
He will try to help the Astros to a fourth straight victory after Chris Johnson’s(notes) three-run homer in the sixth inning highlighted a 3-2 win Thursday over the Dodgers. Houston has won 14 of 18 overall, and 15 of 19 at Minute Maid Park.
Though Johnson is batting .225 over his last 11 games, he is 5 for 14 with two homers and five RBIs in his last four contests.
Pence went 1 for 3 on Thursday and is hitting .395 during a 10-game hitting streak.
Los Angeles (69-72) had won four in a row against Houston before dropping its sixth straight Thursday. The Dodgers have lost 10 of 12 and continue to fade from playoff contention.
Andre Ethier’s(notes) two-run homer was one of four hits Thursday for Los Angeles, which has totaled nine runs and hit .173 during the six-game skid. The All-Star outfielder is 4 for 29 in his last nine games, but a lifetime .353 hitter with four homers against the Astros.
The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA in four starts against the Astros. He allowed three runs in six innings of a 7-3 home win May 18.
After giving up one hit and striking out seven in 7 2-3 innings of a 3-0 win over Philadelphia on Aug. 30, Kuroda allowed three runs and struck out eight in eight innings of a 3-0 loss to San Francisco on Sunday.
“It always helps to have run support,” Kuroda said. “But I’m out there to do my job and that’s what I’m going to do, no matter what situation I’m in. Even without run support, my job is to win the game.”