Houston (19-34) at Chicago (23-28)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Chicago, IL
Temp: 60° F
  • Game info: 2:20 pm EDT Mon May 30, 2011
  • TV: FSH, WGN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Rodrigo Lopez(notes) appears just as eager for his 200th career start as he was for his first.

After coming over in a trade last week, the right-hander is expected to make his debut for the injury-plagued Chicago Cubs on Monday against the NL-worst Houston Astros.

After getting Randy Wells(notes) back in the rotation, the Cubs (23-28) are expected to have Matt Garza(notes) available this weekend, but Andrew Cashner(notes) remains on the 60-day disabled list.

With Casey Coleman(notes) largely ineffective as a replacement starter, Chicago has turned to veterans Lopez and Doug Davis(notes).

The Cubs acquired Lopez from Atlanta on Thursday for a minor leaguer and were initially expected to use him as a reliever. Following Coleman’s demotion this weekend, he is now slated to make a milestone start.

“I’m ready,” Lopez told the team’s website. “I haven’t pitched in like 10 days.”

Lopez was 6-1 with a 2.59 ERA in nine starts for the Braves’ Triple-A Gwinnett and 7-16 with a 5.00 ERA in 33 outings last season for Arizona.

“I kind of got nervous (when I was traded) like my first time (being called up to the majors),” he said. “I like this kind of environment - this old ballpark, people pretty close to you.”

Lopez was 0-1 with a 3.46 ERA in two matchups with Houston (19-34) in 2010 and will face a team that was swept at home by Arizona this weekend. The Astros, losers in 17 of 24, allowed the Diamondbacks to rally in two of those three games, including a 4-2 defeat Sunday.

“Tough series for us,” pitcher J.A. Happ(notes) said. “We are going to try to regroup here and have a good road trip starting in Chicago.”

Houston lost two of three to the Cubs at home April 11-13, and its 8-17 road record is tied for the worst in the NL.

Chicago is 3-3 thus far on its nine-game homestand and needed a 3-2 win Sunday to avoid a sweep to Pittsburgh. Aramis Ramirez(notes) ended his second-longest home run drought in his career in that game, hitting his first in 155 at-bats.

“I have a long way to go,” he said. “Hopefully, I keep driving the ball.”

The Cubs, 12-16 at home, will try to earn consecutive wins at Wrigley for first time since April 18-20 when they face rookie right-hander Aneury Rodriguez(notes), who is still seeking his first major league victory.

Rodriguez (0-2, 4.98) has a 2.38 ERA in his last two outings, but the Astros have provided him little support. He’s been given a combined five runs in his five major league starts and got one on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Rodriguez gave up one run and four hits over six innings in that game while striking out a career-high five and helping the Astros to a 2-1 win.

“It’s nice to see Aneury give us six innings and throw the ball well,” manager Brad Mills(notes) told the team’s website. “He did an absolutely outstanding job.”

Rodriguez has never started against the Cubs but made two appearances during the previous series. Chicago catcher Geovany Soto(notes), activated from the disabled list Sunday, had one of two hits off him during an 11-2 loss April 12. Soto could make his first start since May 10 on Monday.

The Astros’ Hunter Pence(notes), riding a 10-game hit streak, is 5 for 9 in his career against Lopez.

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Starting Pitchers

A. Rodriguez Hou vs. R. Lopez Phi
1-6 Record 6-6
5.27 ERA 4.42
64 K 54
32 BB 29
1.35 WHIP 1.48


Monday, May 30