Bud Norris did something in his last start that no Astros pitcher had done since 1999, but failed to pick up his first victory in three starts.
The California-born Norris will try to find the win column this evening when Houston continues its nine-game road trip with the first of three straight contests against the San Francisco Giants.
The Astros have lost each of Norris' past three starts and the right-hander is 0-2 himself over that time. He was drilled for nine runs over just 1 2/3 innings at Colorado on Wednesday, but was better last Wednesday versus St. Louis despite another setback.
Norris struck out 12 batters over six innings without a walk, but also allowed four runs and seven hits in a 4-3 defeat. Though he became the first Houston pitcher to fan at least 12 batters without a walk since Shane Reynolds on Aug. 15, 1999, Norris said that piling up strikeouts isn't a big part of his game plan.
"I don't look at that, I'm just trying to get outs," Norris said of his strikeout total. "I have to throw more ground balls. When you get more strikeouts, you have to throw more pitches. My job is to put zeros on the board, not worry about strikeouts."
Norris, who went to college at Cal Poly, is 5-3 with a 4.65 earned run average in 12 games this season and logged his first double-digit strikeout game since Aug. 28, 2011 versus the Giants. The 27-year-old was facing San Francisco for the first time in his career on that day and struck out 10 over seven innings of two-run, three-hit ball without a decision.
Houston began its road trip with three games against the White Sox and Sunday's 11-9 win snapped a four-series losing streak for the Astros. Houston used a five-run sixth inning and a season-best four homers to win for just the fourth time in 15 games.
Jose Altuve, J.D. Martinez, Justin Maxwell and Brett Wallace all homered in the win and Lucas Harrell got the victory despite giving up five runs in 7 1/3 frames of work.
The Giants hope to get their offense going tonight after suffering a 5-0 defeat to the Rangers on Sunday, getting held to only three hits in the rubber match.
San Francisco did not get its first hit until Aubrey Huff's double in the sixth, while Tim Lincecum took the loss after allowing five runs on nine hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings of work.
"He's been very good at times and then he has his hiccups," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy about Lincecum. "He was off at times today, no getting around that."
The Giants lost their first series at home since May 1-3.
Madison Bumgarner draws the start tonight for the Giants and has won back-to- back outings since an 0-3 slump. He halted that slide with eight innings of two-run ball versus the Cubs on June 1, striking out 11.
The 22-year-old lefty then struggled a bit in a win over the Padres on Wednesday, charged with four runs on seven hits and four walks over six frames of a 6-5 triumph.
"I didn't really have great command of anything today, it seemed like," admitted Bumgarner, who is 7-4 with a 3.26 ERA in 12 starts this year. "I came out of there lucky today."
Bumgarner will make his third career start versus the Astros, splitting two previous decisions with a 4.85 ERA.
The Astros won four of seven against the Giants last season, with the clubs splitting four meetings in San Francisco.