Astros-Rockies Preview

The Associated Press

The Colorado Rockies have not fared well at home against AL foes.

Not even a visit by that league's worst team could change that.

Colorado will try to avoid a fifth loss in six games Thursday night in the series finale against the Houston Astros.

After splitting a pair of one-run games in Houston to open this home-and-home set, the Rockies (28-25) were denied an eighth straight home win over the Astros (16-37) on Wednesday, losing 6-3.

Colorado is 14-5 at Coors Field against the NL but just 2-5 when hosting AL clubs. The Rockies have dropped 15 of 17 at home during interleague play.

"We didn't get the big hit to get the big inning," manager Walt Weiss said.

The Rockies, though, may have caught a break as they'll face Lucas Harrell (3-6, 5.43 ERA) on Thursday. The right-hander is 0-4 with an 8.22 ERA in five starts this month after losing his career-high third consecutive start Saturday. He lasted a career-low 1 2-3 innings and allowed six runs in the 11-5 loss to Oakland.

"There's pretty much only two things to say about the game,'' he said after getting charged with six runs. "It's embarrassing and it's frustrating."

Harrell's allowed one run in three of his four appearances outside Houston this season, but his only career start at Denver exactly a year ago was one of his worst. He was tagged for 10 hits and a career-high nine runs over five-plus innings of a 13-5 defeat.

Colorado will counter with Juan Nicasio (4-1, 4.38). The right-hander has been making a strong push to remain in the rotation, going 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in his last two starts. Nicasio went five-plus innings in Saturday's 6-5, 10-inning loss at San Francisco, allowing two runs and seven hits.

"I felt great, had command of my fastball and threw it down in the zone, and my breaking ball went for strikes, too," Nicasio told the Rockies' official website.

He has no record with a 4.15 ERA in two starts against Houston, both coming last season.

Troy Tulowitzki continues to feast on Astros pitching, going 3 for 4 with a pair of homers and three RBIs Wednesday to improve to 6 for 14 in the series. He's hit safely in 11 straight with the Astros in town and has a major league-best .413 home batting average.

Tulowitzki has one hit - a double - in six at-bats off Harrell.

Michael Cuddyer's a .386 hitter versus Houston after his second consecutive three-hit game Wednesday. Cuddyer and Carlos Gonzalez, whose 13-game hitting streak against the Astros ended in the last game, both went deep off Harrell in his start last season.

Carlos Pena's ninth-inning homer Wednesday was Houston's first in four games. He's never faced Nicasio.

J.D. Martinez, 2 for 4 in each of the last two games, is hitless in six at-bats in that matchup, while AL player of the week Jason Castro is 0 for 5.

The Astros haven't won two straight since May 7-8. Their last set of back-to-back road victories came during a season-best three-game run April 9-12.

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