Young lefty Wade Miley aims for a first win in his third August start tonight when the Arizona Diamondbacks open a three-game series with the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
The Diamondbacks enter the series on the fringe of contention for the second of the National League's two wild card playoff berths. They trail the Pittsburgh Pirates by six games for the No. 2 slot and are 10 games in back of the Atlanta Braves, who now hold the No. 1 position.
Houston has the worst record in the majors.
Miley, a Louisiana native who'll turn 26 in November, was 12-6 on the season after an 8-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 31 in which he went eight innings and allowed a run on three hits.
He's pitched twice in August and lost a pair of decisions while allowing 15 hits and seven runs in 10 1/3 innings at Pittsburgh and home against Washington.
The former supplemental draft choice (2008) reached the majors with Arizona in 2011 and won four of six decisions with a 4.50 earned run average in 40 innings.
He was 9-4 this year through the end of June, then went 3-2 in July before hitting the skids thus far in August.
He scored a 12-3 win over Houston on July 21 after giving up a run on four hits in seven innings.
The Astros go with rookie lefty Dallas Keuchel, who was on the losing side of the July 21 matchup with Miley.
The 24-year-old was chased after 3 1/3 innings in that outing due to an Arizona barrage that included seven hits and six earned runs while raising Keuchel's ERA from 2.45 to 4.03.
The youngster was 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA after his first three starts in the majors this season, but has since gone 0-4 in six starts while watching the ERA swell to 5.29.
In five home starts, he's 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA in 33 innings.
On Thursday in St. Louis, back-to-back homers by Paul Goldschmidt and Chris Young on consecutive pitches in the top of the ninth inning lifted the Diamondbacks to a 2-1 win over the Cardinals in the finale of a three-game set.
After Jason Motte (4-4) struck out Miguel Montero to begin the frame, Goldschmidt smacked a long ball into the left-center field seats and Young followed with a blast to left.
J.J. Putz worked a 1-2-3 home half to notch his 23rd save of the year, while David Hernandez (2-2) got the win with a scoreless eighth.
Trevor Cahill surrendered a run on five hits and a walk over six innings for Arizona, which snapped a seven-game losing streak to St. Louis.
"It's been a slow go for us, and we were getting shut out again," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. "Guys were upbeat right until the end and good things happened."
On Wednesday in Chicago, David DeJesus belted a pair home runs among his four hits as the Cubs topped the Astros, 7-2, in the finale of a three-game set Wednesday at Wrigley Field.
Jose Altuve registered three hits and Scott Moore had a solo homer and scored both runs for the Astros, who lost for the third time in their last four games.
Bud Norris (5-10) was saddled with the loss after giving up six runs on eight hits and three walks before a grounder back to the mound struck him in the left foot and forced him from the game with one out in the fourth.
The Diamondbacks swept a three-game series in Phoenix in July, outscoring the Astros, 33-13. Arizona won the 2011 season series, six games to one, and hasn't lost it since 2006.