Astros turn to Keuchel in opener with Cubs

Young lefty Dallas Keuchel tries to maintain a recent hot streak on Friday afternoon when the Houston Astros head to Wrigley Field to begin a three-game weekend interleague series with the Chicago Cubs.

Keuchel, who turned 24 on Jan. 1, was 0-1 with a hold while working both starting and working out of the bullpen to begin the season, but he's won four of six starts since.

The most recent triumph came June 16 against the Chicago White Sox, whom he held to two runs on four hits in 6 1/3 innings of a 5-4 decision in Houston.

He's allowed just seven runs in 25 1/3 innings across his last four starts since May 31 - resulting in three victories and a lowering of his 2013 earned run average from 5.53 to 4.23.

Keuchel had a no-decision in his lone meeting with the Cubs as a rookie in 2012, allowing a run on six hits in four innings.

Chicago replies with right-hander Matt Garza, who'll be facing the Astros for the seventh time in his 174th major-league start.

Garza has won just one of the four decisions against Houston while posting a 4.46 earned run average and striking out 30 batters in 38 1/3 innings.

He picked up his lone win of 2013 thus far on May 31, when he went seven innings and allowed two runs in a 7-2 defeat of Arizona at Wrigley.

Loss No. 1 came two weeks later against Cincinnati, who tagged Garza for nine runs in five innings of a 12-2 rout.

He is 10-7 in 26 career starts at Wrigley.

On Thursday in Houston, Carlos Pena's three-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning sent the Astros to a 7-4 decision over Milwaukee in the rubber match of a three-game interleague set.

Carlos Corporan reached base after a wild-pitch third strike from Michael Gonzalez (0-3), then advanced to third on a double from J.D. Martinez. Pena followed with a long homer to right to end the contest.

The blast made a winner of Hector Ambriz (2-4), who turned in a scoreless top of the 10th. Corporan slugged the game-tying homer in the eighth for the Astros, who have won six of their last eight.

Marwin Gonzalez, Matt Dominguez and Trevor Crowe added an RBI each in the victory.

In St. Louis, Matt Holliday went 2-for-4 with a solo homer and two RBI to lead the Cardinals to a 6-1 win over the Cubs in the finale of a four-game set at Busch Stadium.

Welington Castillo drove in the Cubs' only run with a solo homer in the third inning. Scott Feldman (6-6) was charged with five runs on six hits and four walks over 5 1/3 innings to absorb the loss.

The Cubs won eight of 15 games with the Astros in 2012, Houston's final season in the National League.