Astros-Pirates Preview

The Associated Press

Not even a visit from the lowly Houston Astros is enough to guarantee that the Pittsburgh Pirates will end their current skid.

With Wandy Rodriguez facing his old team, the Pirates look to avoid matching a season high with their fifth straight defeat Tuesday night against the Astros.

After being swept in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh (70-64) managed five hits during a 5-1 loss Monday that snapped a six-game winning streak versus Houston. Losers in 20 of 30, the Pirates are 2 1/2 games out of the final NL wild-card spot

"We've got to keep going,'' Pittsburgh's Garrett Jones said. "We've got to keep our heads high, keep our confidence high and get 'em (Tuesday).''

Jones had three of his team's hits against journeyman starter Edgar Gonzalez and two Houston relievers.

"We're in that little rut where it looks like we're hitting in a tea cup,'' said manager Clint Hurdle, whose team last lost five in a row from April 10-14.

Jones, however, is 6 for 7 in the last two games. He's batted .415 (17 for 41) with four homers and 11 RBIs in 12 games versus Houston this season.

In Rodriguez's first start since the Astros (42-93) traded him to Pittsburgh, the left-hander faced his former team July 28 and allowed three runs and walked five in six innings while not factoring in the decision of a 4-3 win at Houston.

He opposes them this time coming off this best outing in a Pirates' uniform Wednesday when he gave up three hits in six innings of a 5-0 win over St. Louis. Though the victory was his first with Pittsburgh as a starter, Rodriguez is 2-4 with a 4.12 ERA in seven appearances - six starts - since he was acquired by the Pirates.

"I feel great," Rodriguez told the Pirates official website. "I came here to help the team, so when I win, I feel better."

He'll face a Houston lineup where Monday's first three hitters - Jose Altuve, Tyler Greene and Brett Wallace - went a combined 7 for 13. Wallace hit a three-run homer for the Astros, winners of two of three a following six-game skid.

Altuve is batting .385 (5 for 13) in his last four games against the Pirates after going 5 for 31 (.161) in his previous nine during the season series.

Scheduled Houston starter Jordan Lyles (3-10, 5.46) has a chance to win consecutive road starts for the first time in his career Tuesday. The right-hander was 0-10 with a 6.99 ERA in his first 17 road starts before he allowed a home run and two other hits in six innings of a 3-1 win at New York on Aug. 24.

However, Lyles is 0-2 with an 8.04 ERA in three career starts against the Pirates. In his only start at PNC Park on July 2, he was tagged for seven runs in four innings of an 11-2 loss.

Lyles gave up three runs in five innings while not factoring in the decision of an 8-4 defeat to San Francisco on Thursday.

"I have to learn from my mistakes and somehow, when the offense does a good job, I have to learn how to manage the game and not give up three or four runs," Lyles said.

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