It's another start and another chance at a second career win for rookie right-hander Dallas Keuchel, who tries to snap an eight-start drought Thursday afternoon when the Houston Astros wrap a three-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals.
A 24-year-old from Tulsa, Okla., Keuchel debuted with a no-decision on June 17 and picked up a win six days later after allowing six hits and a single run in a complete-game 8-1 downing of the Cleveland Indians.
He allowed one run for the third straight time in start No. 3 on June 28 against San Diego, but has since allowed four or more in six of seven starts while losing five straight decisions.
He was more effective, but no more successful, in his most recent outing on Aug. 17 when he surrendered two runs on four hits in 6 2/3 innings of a 3-1 loss to Arizona.
Keuchel has never faced the Cardinals.
For St. Louis, veteran Jake Westbrook tries to restart a win streak in his 25th start of the season and 251st of his career.
The 34-year-old won five straight outings between July 21-Aug. 11 to improve to 12-8 on the season, then dropped a 2-1 verdict to Pittsburgh in his most recent performance on Aug. 17.
His last loss before the Pirates game was July 15 in Cincinnati.
Westbrook is 2-2 in six lifetime meetings with the Astros.
On Wednesday, Kyle Lohse pitched seven strong innings as the Cardinals took a 4-2 win.
Lohse (13-2) gave up just two runs on three hits with three strikeouts to run his winning streak to seven games.
"I felt real solid mechanically," Lohse said. "I felt like I was hitting my spot, changing speeds, doing things I needed to be successful."
Jon Jay went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored while Yadier Molina and Daniel Descalso each drove in a run for the Cardinals, who have won three of four.
Bud Norris (5-11) gave up three runs on seven hits over six innings while Chris Snyder and Brett Wallace each hit solo homers for the Astros, who have lost six straight.
"It was frustrating. We were knocking on the door a couple of times," Wallace said. "We had guys on base and hit the ball hard, but they made some plays."
The teams split their first six games of 2012, with the Astros taking two of three in May in Houston, while the Cardinals won two of three there in June.