Freddy Garcia had a superb outing his last time out, but will have a tough act to follow Wednesday when the Baltimore Orioles shoot for a series win over the Houston Astros in the second portion of a three-game set.
Garcia has to follow up Chris Tillman's performance in Tuesday's opener of this series, as the latter held the Astros to a run and four hits in seven innings with eight strikeouts and two walks. Tillman improved to 5-2 on the season and has won five of his previous six decisions.
"He had a lot of pitches working for him," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Tillman. "That kept them from sitting on him."
Danny Valencia homered and Ryan Flaherty finished with two hits and an RBI for Baltimore, which put an end to Houston's season-high six-game winning streak and prevailed for the eighth time in 11 tries.
The Orioles are tied with the New York Yankees at 2 1/2 games off Boston's lead in the AL East and hope Garcia can keep the momentum going. Garcia had his best outing of the season the last time out in a 2-0 win over Washington last Thursday and delivered eight shutout innings with six K's and no walks.
"You can't say enough about him. He was a bulldog out there," Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis said of Garcia. "He gave us eight innings and then (closer) Jim Johnson (finished it). That's how a baseball game is supposed to be played."
Garcia, a right-hander, has won back-to-back starts since opening his first season with the Orioles 0-2 with a 4.84 earned run average. He is now 2-2 in six outings to go along with a 3.57 ERA. He lost his only career start against the Astros and allowed three runs in eight innings, striking out nine and allowing three walks.
Markakis won't be around for Garcia's seventh start of the season because of the death of his grandmother. The right fielder is expected to miss two games and is batting .300 with seven homers and 33 RBI this season.
The Astros look to start a new winning streak when they resume this home series versus the Orioles at Minute Maid Park.
Lucas Harrell was saddled with a tough-luck loss Tuesday and was reached for a pair of runs -- one earned -- and five hits in seven innings. He fanned six batters and did not issue a walk in falling to 4-7 on the season.
"(Harrell) kept us in the ballgame, but we couldn't get that big hit," Astros outfielder Brandon Barnes said.
Barnes homered and finished with a team-best two hits.
Houston, which will close out this series Thursday afternoon, hopes Dallas Keuchel can even the set when he toes the rubber. Keuchel has won two of his last three appearances and was sharp in Friday's 6-3 win at the LA Angels of Anaheim, as he held them to two runs in seven innings.
Keuchel is 2-2 with a 5.10 ERA in 11 games (5 starts) and the left-hander will face the Orioles for the first time.
Baltimore and Houston are meeting for the first time since the Orioles swept a three-game series at Camden Yards from June 17-19, 2008. The Orioles are back in Houston after losing all three matchups there from June 3-5, 2003.