Dallas Keuchel has been a major factor in the Houston Astros' improved play over the last month. The Arizona Diamondbacks are also a better team, but Brandon McCarthy hasn't had much to do with that success.
Keuchel and McCarthy square off Wednesday night when the Astros and Diamondbacks open a two-game series in Houston following a pair of matchups in Arizona.
The Astros were riding a five-game losing streak before Keuchel won in Detroit on May 8. That victory began a 19-13 stretch for Houston, one of the majors' best records over that span, after it opened with 24 losses in 34 games.
Keuchel is 5-1 with a 1.36 ERA in his last six outings after pitching six scoreless innings in a 5-4 victory at Minnesota on Friday. The left-hander set a career high in wins, improving to 7-3 with a 2.50 ERA in 12 starts.
"My dad texted me and told me that was my career high already," Keuchel told the Astros' official website. "It's exciting. That just means the team's playing better and I pride myself on going out there and trying to give the team the best possible opportunity to win the game every fifth day, and right now we're playing great. We're going to try to keep this roll going."
Houston (29-37) went on to take two of three from the Twins before moving on to Arizona and splitting a pair of games. The Diamondbacks snapped a tie with two runs in the seventh inning Tuesday en route to a 4-1 win.
Arizona has won six of eight and has also played well following a poor start, going 21-16 after dropping 22 of its first 30.
The Diamondbacks (29-38) have homered 12 times in the last eight games after going deep seven times in their previous 13.
"We've been pushing on, guys staying with their approach," manager Kirk Gibson said. "A lot of talking on the bench and we've made some adjustments in-game when we've had to."
McCarthy (1-8, 5.13 ERA) could stand to make some adjustments of his own. His only win came at San Diego on May 3, and he's 6-19 with a 4.75 ERA in 35 starts with Arizona since signing before last season.
The right-hander leads the NL in losses but is coming off a solid outing after giving up three runs and striking out nine in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-2 defeat to Atlanta on Friday. He had allowed 10 runs and 18 hits over 11 innings in his previous two starts.
"He gave us a chance to win," Gibson said.
McCarthy is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA in two starts against the Astros, but he hasn't faced them since 2009 and only Dexter Fowler (1 for 3) has stepped into the batter's box against him.
Fowler went 4 for 8 in the two meetings in Arizona and is batting .517 during an eight-game hitting streak.
Keuchel has lost both of his starts against the Diamondbacks behind a 7.20 ERA, last facing them as a rookie in 2012.
Paul Goldschmidt hit his third homer in six games Tuesday and has keyed Arizona's recent surge, totaling 10 RBIs in his last seven while batting .400.
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