Right-hander Bud Norris tries yet again to end a winless drought stretching back to May today, when the Houston Astros wrap up a three- game series with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
A 27-year-old Californian, Norris was 5-1 on the season after tossing seven scoreless innings of five-hit ball against the Cubs on May 21 in Houston.
He's 0-8 in 12 starts since, however, including a 4-0 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley on June 29 in which he allowed four runs and struck out one in six innings.
His most recent decision came Aug. 5 against Atlanta and saw him lose a 6-1 verdict after pitching six innings and allowing four runs on seven hits.
The Astros were 8-1 in his first nine appearances of 2012, but are just 1-11 in the 12 games he's pitched.
Lifetime against the Cubs, Norris is 3-3 with a 2.52 earned run average in seven games.
In Tuesday's second game, Jose Altuve recorded three hits and scored twice while Brett Wallace and Fernando Martinez hit three-run home runs as the Astros pounded the Cubs, 10-1.
Scott Moore also joined the three-hit club with two runs scored, two doubles and a solo home run.
The run support was more than enough for Lucas Harrell (10-8), who yielded just one run on six hits with seven strikeouts and two walks over eight frames. All but one Houston regular finished with at least one hit, as the Astros snapped a two-game losing streak.
"We got pitches to drive and we drove them. I think was key tonight. We had a lot of extra-base hits," Moore said.
Chicago's Chris Volstad (0-9) was hit around to the tune of four runs on eight hits with three strikeouts over five frames. He hasn't picked up a victory in 12 starts during his first season with the Cubs after coming over in an offseason trade from Miami.
"There was nothing real crisp going on," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "He didn't have command of his fastball or quite the sink that he's had the last couple outings."
Starlin Castro finished 1-for-4 and scored a run for the Cubs, who have lost four of five.
Chicago sends righty Justin Germano to the mound for the fifth time since purchasing his contract from the Boston Red Sox on July 19.
The 30-year-old, who's been a part of five organizations since he was drafted by San Diego in 2000, made one appearance with the Red Sox in July before the acquisition by the Cubs.
He's started three games and made one relief appearance with Chicago while compiling a 4.26 ERA across 19 innings.
In his last start, on Aug. 10 against Cincinnati, he was touched for six runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 10-8 loss.
He's lost both career meetings against Houston while allowing 13 runs in 9 1/3 innings.
Both of the previous series between the teams in 2012 have ended in sweeps. The Astros won three straight games in Houston from May 21-23, while the Cubs did the same at Wrigley Field from June 29-July 1.
Chicago won last year's series, 8-7.