After holding an opponent to fewer than 10 runs for the first time in five games, the Houston Astros hope a pitcher coming off the worst start of his career can help them record their first three-game road winning streak in nearly three months.
Jennings (2-7, 6.03 ERA) gave up a career-high 11 runs while only recording two outs in his last start - an 18-11 loss to San Diego on Sunday. That was the first of four straight games in which the Astros (48-61) allowed opponents to score in double-digits.
“It was pretty much an embarrassment,” said Jennings, who is 1-6 with an 8.53 ERA in eight games - seven starts - since June 25. “I was embarrassed for my teammates and for the fans. It’s one of those that you just flush down the toilet and try to move on. But it’s definitely something I’ll never forget.”
Jennings was able to deliver a win with his bat on Thursday, driving in the go-ahead run with a single in the 14th inning of the Astros’ 12-11 win over Atlanta.
“Mentally, it helps a little,” Jennings said. “But I don’t get paid to hit. I’m paid to pitch.”
After giving up 53 runs over their previous four games, the Astros finally got a lift from their pitching staff on Friday as Roy Oswalt held the Marlins to one run in six innings of an 8-2 win in the series opener.
Utility infielder Eric Bruntlett matched his career high with three hits and established a new personal best with four RBIs to lead the Astros to their second consecutive win on the road. They haven’t won three straight away from Houston since May 7-9.
“It’s an awfully great feeling to get RBIs and come up with big hits,” said Bruntlett, who is 8-for-16 in his career against the Marlins.
The Marlins (50-60) lost for the ninth time in 11 games, and are 0-7 in that stretch when being held to three runs or fewer. They also dropped to 10 games under .500 for the first time this season.
“This is a good learning experience, not only for myself, but for everybody,” Florida rookie manager Fredi Gonzalez told the Marlins’ official Web site.
Despite Florida’s recent struggles, All-Star third baseman Miguel Cabrera has hit safely in 20 of 21 games since the break. He is batting .395 (32-for-81) with eight home runs and 18 RBIs in the second half, and is 6-for-10 with a home run in his career against Jennings.
Florida will send Sergio Mitre (5-5, 3.55) to the mound, hoping the right-hander can continue his strong pitching against Houston. Mitre is 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in three career starts against the Astros, who have only eight hits in 13 1-3 innings against the right-hander. He started against Houston on April 17, but was pulled after one-third of an inning because of a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand.
Mitre, though, has yielded 12 runs in 9 2-3 innings over his last two starts. On Sunday, he gave up five runs in 6 2-3 innings, but still managed to get the win as Florida rallied for an 8-5 victory over San Francisco.
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