The Houston Astros are the worst road team in baseball this year.
J.A. Happ's struggles away from home have been going on for much longer.
Happ will try to win on the road for the first time in more than a year and end the Astros' four-game skid Saturday against the Chicago Cubs.
Houston (32-45) fell to 9-26 on the road after opening a seven-game trip with a 4-0 loss at Wrigley Field on Friday, its sixth defeat in its last seven contests on Chicago's North Side.
The Astros, who have also lost four straight road games overall, are expected to give the ball to Happ (6-7, 4.83 ERA), who has won his last two starts while allowing three runs and eight hits over 13 innings. However, those victories came at home, and it's been an entirely different story for Happ away from Houston.
The left-hander has dropped a major league-high 10 consecutive decisions on the road, posting a 6.18 ERA in 15 outings since beating Cincinnati on May 3, 2011. His worst outing of the season came in his last road start June 13 at San Francisco, where he surrendered eight runs and 11 hits in 3 1-3 innings.
Now, Happ gets a chance to end the road drought in front of family and friends. He grew up roughly two hours from Chicago (27-49), but has made only one career start at Wrigley with Philadelphia on Aug. 11, 2009.
"There's going to be a nice crowd here, and I'll have a lot of friends and relatives here," he told the Astros' official website. "I'm definitely looking forward to it."
He'll need a bit of help from the Astros' offense, which is batting .205 with eight runs over its last four road games after being held to four hits in the opener of this three-game set.
Second baseman Jose Altuve - the club's leading hitter with a .309 average - is expected to miss one more game due to a strained hamstring. The Astros are batting .174 in five games without him.
The Cubs have won three of four, losing 17-1 to the New York Mets on Wednesday but allowing a total of four runs in the three victories.
Matt Garza (3-6, 4.06) will try to give them another solid outing, but the right-hander is 1-5 with a 5.77 ERA in his last seven starts. He gave up three runs in seven innings of a 5-1 loss at Arizona on Sunday.
"A lot of it's on my shoulders," Garza told the Cubs' official website. "My job is to hold the lead when I get it, and if I don't have a lead, keep them where they're at until we get it. That's my job, and that's what I try to do."
Garza is 0-3 with a 4.64 ERA in five career starts against Houston. He lasted just three innings in an 8-4 road defeat May 21, allowing seven runs and two homers.
Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano is 6 for 14 with two homers in his last five games after connecting for a solo shot Friday. He's 2 for 6 with a double and a homer off Happ.
- Houston Astros
- Chicago Cubs