Cubs-Astros Preview

The Associated Press

Chicago's Travis Wood picked up his first victory since the All-Star break his last time out.

Given his history against the Houston Astros, he appears to have a good shot at making it two in a row.

Wood looks to continue his stellar pitching against the Astros as he takes the ball for the Cubs in Wednesday night's series finale between baseball's two worst teams.

Chicago (55-87) is expected to be without slugger Anthony Rizzo for its last game in Houston with the Astros (45-97) as a member of the NL after he left Tuesday's 1-0 loss with a sore right shoulder and upper back sustained in a collision with Brett Wallace at first base. A high throw by second baseman Jimmy Paredes - his second of three errors - forced Wallace to jump. Rizzo then hit the first baseman, causing him to tumble violently to the ground.

"I was just stunned, dazed, at first. That's why at first I didn't move,'' Rizzo said. "I'm more sore than anything ... it was an ugly fall.''

Rizzo, who is batting .340 with three homers in his last 13 games, walked off the field with the help of team trainers, and the Cubs are going to monitor him for the next couple of days. His absence in the lineup would be a big blow for Chicago, which had its season high-tying four-game winning streak end Tuesday, but the Cubs might not need much offense behind Wood (5-11, 4.42 ERA).

It also helps that Starling Castro has been locked in lately, batting .405 with five doubles and six RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak.

In Wood's five starts versus the Astros since 2011, he is 2-1 with a 1.16 ERA - his lowest ERA against any team he has faced more than once. His best start of the year came against Houston on July 1, when he gave up three hits in a season-high 7 2-3 innings of a 3-0 victory.

In Pittsburgh on Friday, Wood gave up one hit and three walks over six shutout innings in a 12-2 win over the Pirates, his first victory since July 6. In the 10 starts between wins, the left-hander went 0-8 with a 6.33 ERA.

The Astros have experienced similar futility behind Fernando Abad (0-3, 5.30) in losing in each of his last nine outings, though, he's only started the last three.

After allowing one run in four innings in his first career start against the New York Mets on Aug. 25, Abad has a 10.80 ERA in his last two.

"He'll improve more and more every outing," catcher Carlos Corporan told the Astros' official website after Abad yielded five runs in four innings in last Wednesday's 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh. "He needs to learn how to be a starter."

The lefty made 81 relief appearances - including 30 this year - before moving into the rotation. He's come out of the bullpen 10 times against the Cubs, and has a 2.16 ERA over 8 1-3 innings.

The Astros could have their starting middle infield back for the finale in All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve and shortstop Jed Lowrie.

Altuve entered Tuesday's game in the eighth inning after being sidelined since Friday with an abdominal strain, and Lowrie could return from a sprained right ankle that landed him on the disabled list July 15.

What to Read Next