Rangers-Astros Preview

The Associated Press

With the AL's two worst records, the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers have little left to play for this season.

The Astros, however, are one win shy of capturing the Silver Boot for the first time in eight years.

Houston looks to clinch the season series with a victory Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros (57-78) had lost four of five before taking a 4-2 victory in Thursday's opener, relying on Jason Castro's second career grand slam in the fifth inning. Castro also singled after entering the game in an 0-for-20 slump. He has hit .361 with nine RBIs in his last nine home games against the Rangers (52-81).

"He's been working extremely hard," manager Bo Porter said of Castro. "And for him to be the guy that came up with that big hit there it's obviously good for the team and obviously good for his confidence."

Houston leads the Lone Star Series 9-4, and a win Friday would clinch the series for the first time since taking four of six as interleague opponents in 2006. A three-game set in Texas from Sept. 22-24 marks their only remaining series after Sunday.

Texas won 43 of 55 meetings from 2007-13.

"We won quite a few times," shortstop Elvis Andrus told MLB's official website. "If they win it, they deserve it."

Astros starter Brett Oberholtzer (4-9, 4.01 ERA) seeks his first win in five starts after giving up three runs and 10 hits over 6 2-3 innings in a 3-1 defeat at Cleveland on Sunday. Two of those runs came with two outs.

"I gave up a good fair share of hits, but I was disappointed in myself in not closing innings out.," he said.

Oberholtzer has endured some tough luck against Texas - going 0-2 despite a 2.25 ERA in four games, including three starts. However, he's 3-1 with a 2.28 ERA in his last seven starts at Minute Maid Park, including a 4-3 victory over the Rangers on Aug. 8 when he limited them to two runs over seven innings.

Adrian Beltre is 4 for 7 against him, 19 for 45 over his last 12 games and has hit .409 with 21 RBIs and 19 extra-base hits in his last 24 matchups with Houston.

Scott Baker (2-3, 5.45 ERA) had gone 0-3 with a 6.97 ERA through his first four starts before yielding only Billy Butler's homer over five innings of a 3-1 victory against Kansas City on Sunday. It marked his first win as a starter since July 23, 2011, with Minnesota, and his first following Tommy John surgery in 2012.

"It's still special because of the road that I've had to endure as far as injuries," Baker said.

Baker has given up four runs to Houston in 5 1-3 innings over three relief appearances this year.

Alex Rios missed a second straight game Thursday due to a bruised right thumb but is expected to return Friday. He's just 7 for 44 over his last 13 contests but has hit safely in six straight meetings with the Astros.

Houston's Robbie Grossman also sat out the opener after twisting his ankle in Wednesday's loss to Oakland, and manager Bo Porter told MLB's official website he's day to day. Grossman is 11 for 24 with three homers and seven RBIs in his last seven contests against Texas.

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