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The Associated Press

The Minnesota Twins haven't been able to dig their way out of some early holes, thanks to their struggling rotation.

That could change when they send one of their hottest pitchers to the mound.

Samuel Deduno looks to win a career-best fourth straight start and end the Twins' four-game losing streak Friday night when he takes on rookie Jarred Cosart and the visiting Houston Astros.

Scott Diamond was the latest Minnesota starter to fall on difficult times Thursday, allowing seven runs and nine hits in five-plus innings in a 7-2 loss to Kansas City. He was optioned to the minors following the game.

Minnesota's starters have the highest ERA in baseball at 5.18, and they've posted a 7.65 ERA while giving up 34 hits over 20 innings during the team's skid.

It's been a much different story when the Twins (45-60) have had Deduno (7-4, 3.18 ERA) toeing the rubber.

The right-hander has been effectively wild during a three-start winning streak, allowing 11 walks but only three runs in 21 innings. He's thrown seven innings in each of those outings, all on the road.

Deduno matched a season high with six strikeouts while walking three and allowing three hits over seven innings in Saturday's 4-0 win at Seattle.

"Guys, if they ever do get to first, say, 'Man, I don't know what to look for off this guy,'" first baseman Justin Morneau said. "And then it's got so much movement they can't get locked in on anything. You rarely see guys square the ball up off him."

Deduno will try to continue his run back at Target Field, where he's gone 3-1 with a 2.33 ERA over four quality starts.

He'll face a Houston team that has batted a major league-worst .225 while dropping 22 of 28 since June 28.

Marc Krauss (.208) has struggled during this stretch, but he hit his second home run in five games as the Astros lost 6-3 in Baltimore on Thursday. Carlos Pena was 4 for 31 with 12 strikeouts before getting released Wednesday.

Following his first major league hit Thursday, L.J. Hoes is 1 for 9 in two games since being acquired from the Orioles for Bud Norris, who defeated the Astros in the series finale.

Houston (36-71) could be without leading hitter Jose Altuve, who was held out of the starting lineup Thursday to rest his sore left quad.

The Astros certainly haven't helped Cosart (1-0, 0.86) much by giving him five runs of support in his first three starts. The right-hander has allowed 13 hits and walked 11 over 21 innings while limiting opponents to a .191 batting average.

Cosart gave up one run and four hits while walking five over six innings in a 2-1 loss at Toronto on Sunday.

He'll make his first start against the Twins, who have averaged 2.5 runs and batted .198 while losing six of eight.

After hitting .175 with four homers in July, Morneau had a promising start to August with a home run and double Thursday.

Teammate Trevor Plouffe has been mired in a 4-for-39 slump, while Aaron Hicks was sent to Triple-A Rochester on Thursday after hitting .163 since the All-Star break.

This is the first meeting between these teams since the Astros took two of three at Minnesota in 2009.

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