The Astros continue their road trip Friday night looking for their fifth win in seven games against the Dodgers.
Houston (38-80) was in position to split its four-game series with NL West-leading Arizona before falling apart late Thursday. Mark Melancon(notes) gave up a game-tying two-run homer to rookie Paul Goldschmidt(notes) in the bottom of the ninth and Sergio Escalona(notes) yielded a three-run walk-off shot to Chris Young in the 10th for an 8-5 loss.
“The whole key in pitching is keeping the hitter off balance. Execution was what failed,” said Melancon, who was one strike away from ending the game, but blew his fourth save in 15 tries.
Looking ahead to 2012, there are some bright spots for the Astros (38-80).
Second baseman Jose Altuve(notes), who went 8 for 20 with six runs against the Diamondbacks, is hitting .346. Outfielder J.D. Martinez(notes), also a rookie, became the first player in club history with four homers and 12 RBIs in his first 10 games earlier this week. He had a two-run double Thursday, and is batting .273.
Neither player has faced the Dodgers (52-64), who appear headed for back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1986 and 1987.
They blew a six-run lead Wednesday in a 9-8 loss to Philadelphia, completing a three-game sweep. Los Angeles has dropped four in a row overall, and five straight at home.
“All three games, (with) a hit here or there, we could win two out of three or sweep that series. But it seems like that’s kind of been a theme for us all year,” third baseman Casey Blake(notes) told the Dodgers’ official website.
Matt Kemp(notes) is 3 for 6 with a solo homer off Norris, while Andre Ethier(notes) is 2 for 4 with a home run. James Loney(notes) also has three hits off Norris, but has struck out four times in nine at-bats against Norris.
Norris is 0-2 with a 4.82 ERA in five outings since the All-Star break. He surrendered six runs and eight hits in five innings of Sunday’s 7-3 loss to NL Central-leading Milwaukee.
“I got that first start out of the way so I shouldn’t feel those nerves,” the 22-year old right-hander said.
Eovaldi allowed two runs and four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in seven innings of Saturday’s 5-3 win at Arizona. He went 6-5 with a 2.62 ERA this season with Double-A Chattanooga and was a Southern League All-Star.