Pirates, Astros continue series in Space City

Right-hander Kevin Correia can make it three wins in four career decisions against the Houston Astros tonight when the Pittsburgh Pirates return to Minute Maid Park for the second of a three-game series.

The 32-year-old Californian is 2-1 in 12 career meetings with the Astros with a 4.17 earned run average and last faced them on July 29, tossing two innings in relief in the Pirates' 9-5 loss.

He allowed four runs on five hits in that outing and has mixed starts and bullpen trips since while going 3-3 in nine outings.

Correia was a 3-0 winner over the Chicago Cubs in his most recent appearance - a start on Sept. 17 - in which he allowed two hits and struck out six in seven scoreless innings, lowering his ERA from 4.29 to 4.09.

The Pirates are 4-6 in the last 10 games he's pitched.

For the Astros, rookie lefty Dallas Keuchel tries to make it two straight victories after a prolonged losing streak.

The 24-year-old native of Tulsa, Okla. was 1-0 on the season after an 8-1 interleague defeat of the Cleveland Indians on June 23, then proceeded to lose seven straight decisions over his next 11 starts.

The skid finally ended on Sept. 15 against Philadelphia, when Keuchel tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings while giving up five hits in a 5-0 win.

He lost 6-4 and 5-3 decisions to the Pirates on July 4 and 26, respectively, while allowing a combined 12 hits and nine runs in 11 2/3 innings.

On Friday, Jed Lowrie hit a three-run homer, while Justin Maxwell and Brett Wallace added solo shots in the Astros' 7-1 win.

Edgar Gonzalez started the game for Houston, but left in the second inning with a strained right hamstring. Fernando Rodriguez (2-10) tossed 3 1/3 innings of shutout ball to pick up the win.

"Fernando Rodriguez really stepped up today," Astros interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said. "He got some big outs for us, filled some innings for us. He made some pitches."

Jeff Locke (0-2) fanned eight, but surrendered three runs on three hits and three walks in five innings for the sinking Pirates, who have dropped four in a row and 12 of their last 14 contests. The Buccos are 5 1/2 games off the pace in the wild card standings.

The Pirates won 11 of the first 14 games between the teams in 2012, including two of three in a series from Sept. 3-5 in Pittsburgh. The Pirates won last year's series, 11-7.