The Pittsburgh Pirates turn to former Houston starter Wandy Rodriguez on Tuesday night in an attempt to even their three-game series with the visiting Astros.
Rodriguez was dealt by the Astros on July 24 for a trio of minor leaguers and made his Pirates debut four days later against his former club in Houston. The left-hander did not factor into the decision of a 4-3 win, charged with three runs on six hits and five walks over six innings.
Rodriguez, who was 7-9 with a 3.79 earned run average in 21 starts this year with the Astros, then lost his next three starts with the Pirates before picking up a relief victory in a 19-inning marathon at the St. Louis Cardinals on Aug. 19.
Following another loss, Rodriguez finally earned his first triumph as a starter with Pittsburgh, holding the Cardinals to three hits and three walks over six scoreless frames of a 5-0 win.
The 33-year-old moved to 2-4 with a 4.12 ERA with the Pirates, who continue to struggle as of late. They lost Monday's opener 5-1, their fourth loss in a row that dropped the club 2 1/2 games back of a wild card spot.
Edgar Gonzalez made his season debut for the Astros and gave up one run on five hits over 5 1/3 innings as Houston won for only the second time in nine games.
"It was awesome," Astros manager Tony DeFrancesco said. "This guy threw strikes, aggressive with his offspeed. He kept us in the game. No panic at all. That was a big lift."
The top three hitters of the Astros' order led the offensive charge, with Jose Altuve, Tyler Greene and Brett Wallace combining for seven of Houston's 10 hits while driving in three runs and scoring four times.
Jeff Locke took the loss in his first start of the season. The Pittsburgh left-hander gave up five runs and seven hits in five innings of work.
Pedro Alvarez tripled and scored Pittsburgh's only run.
"(Gonzalez) spotted his fastball," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He mixed speeds. He came after you. He's not going to hold anything back. I told you he'd be hungry, wants to stay in the big leagues. We just weren't able to answer."
Pittsburgh hopes to have an answer tonight for Houston righty Jordan Lyles.
Lyles notched his first victory in 10 starts when he beat the New York Mets on Aug. 24, then did not factor into an 8-4 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Thursday. The 21-year-old was charged with three runs on seven hits over five innings, leaving him 3-10 on the season with a 5.46 ERA in 20 starts.
Lyles lost the first two starts of his career against the Pirates and did not factor into his most recent encounter with them on July 27 despite allowing four runs on seven hits and two homers over six innings. He did strike out eight and holds a lifetime ERA of 8.04 in this series.
The Pirates have won nine of 12 versus the Astros this season, including six of eight at home.