Right-hander Bud Norris can end a difficult season on a winning note Tuesday when the Houston Astros visit Wrigley Field for the second of three games with the Chicago Cubs.
Norris, a 27-year-old Californian, opened the season with five wins in his initial six decisions before a prolonged skid that saw him lose 12 consecutive decisions between May and September.
He finally ended the drought on Sept. 26 against the St. Louis Cardinals, allowing two hits in 7 1/3 scoreless innings while walking none and striking out seven batters.
Norris, who's 3-4 in eight career meetings with the Cubs, last faced them on Aug. 15 and dropped a 7-2 decision after allowing six runs on eight hits in just 3 1/3 innings.
He's struggled in 17 starts away from home this season, going 2-12.
The Astros are 2-8 in his last 10 overall starts.
For the Cubs, righty Chris Volstad can end a three-start skid to round out the 2012 season.
The former No. 1 draft pick of the Florida Marlins opened the year with nine consecutive losses through Aug. 19, then reeled off three victories in four starts between Aug. 26 and Sept. 10 - including a 4-1 win over Houston.
He allowed a run on four hits in five innings against the Astros at Minute Maid Park to up his career record against them to 3-1 in seven starts.
In three outings since that win, Volstad is 0-1 while allowing 26 hits and 16 runs in 12 2/3 innings against Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Colorado.
On Monday, Lucas Harrell struck out seven over six scoreless innings to guide the Astros to a 3-0 win.
Harrell (11-11) allowed just two hits and one walk to pick up his team-best 11th win.
Fernando Martinez went 2-for-3 with a homer and scored twice while Scott Moore and Matt Dominguez each drove in a run for the Astros, who avoided their 107th loss of the season.
"It's good to see we're finishing strong and not packing it in," Astros catcher Jason Castro said.
Jason Berken (0-3) gave up two runs on four hits over 4 2/3 innings to absorb the loss for Chicago.
The Cubs have dropped eight of their last nine and reached 100 losses for the first time since 1966.
"It's something we didn't want to be apart of, but unfortunately it happened," Berken said.
The Cubs won seven of the first 12 games between the teams in 2012, including two of three in a series between Sept. 10-12 in Houston.