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Cubs start set in Houston

It is tough to find silver linings in what has been a disastrous season for the Astros, but at least the club is getting a good look at some young players.

After one of its rookie hurlers was beat up on Sunday, Houston will give Henry Sosa his second major league start this evening in the opener of a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs at Minute Maid Park.

Sosa was given a rude introduction to the majors last week in Arizona as he was charged with four runs on six hits and three walks in six innings of his MLB debut on Wednesday. He allowed a homer to the first batter he faced and yielded three runs in the opening frame.

"The first inning I overthrew the ball a little bit," the 26-year-old Sosa said.

The right-hander was acquired from San Francisco in a deal for Jeff Keppinger on July 19 and went 10-3 with a 4.53 earned run average in the minors this season.

Jordan Lyles was also roughed up by the Diamondbacks last week, giving up career highs of seven runs and 12 hits in a no-decision one day earlier. Looking to bounce back on Sunday versus the Dodgers, the 20-year-old instead yielded another seven runs on seven hits -- including three homers -- and three walks over 5 1/3 innings of a 7-0 defeat.

"Jordan, you know, the last game in Arizona also, in the same situation with the 7-8-9 hitters, they were able to get there and they were able to get him today in those innings," said Houston manager Brad Mills. "We're going to go back and look at some things."

Houston plated just one run in getting swept in three games by Los Angeles, running its losing streak to a season-worst six straight games. The Astros own the worst record in baseball at 38-83.

They'll deal with a Cubs squad tonight that has won four of five and 11 of its past 14. Chicago claimed the rubber match of a three-game series with Atlanta on Sunday, 6-5, despite striking out 18 times and committing four errors.

Carlos Pena salvaged the game with a two-run homer in the seventh inning. He also had a sacrifice fly and Darwin Barney notched three hits and scored twice.

"It's very seldom that happens," Pena told his team's website of winning despite the strikeouts and errors. "We're happy to come out with the victory today. We didn't play good defense. At the same time, I'm proud of the ballclub because we just kept coming."

The Cubs will send Rodrigo Lopez to the hill tonight in the hopes he can build off his first victory since July 18.

Facing the Nationals on Wednesday, the right-hander gave up two runs -- one earned -- on five hits over 5 2/3 innings of a 4-2 victory. The win improved Lopez to 3-3 with a 4.78 ERA in 18 games this season, including eight starts.

Lopez, who has pitched to a 7.08 ERA on the road this year, made his Cubs debut back on May 30 against the Astros and was blasted for six runs on 10 hits and two homers over 4 2/3 innings of a no-decision. The 35-year-old is 1-2 with a 5.34 ERA in six career games versus Houston, all but one of those starts.

The Cubs have won five of nine over the Astros this year, taking two of three in Houston back in mid-April.