(SportsNetwork.com) - Scott Feldman goes after his third straight win on Thursday when the Houston Astros open a four-game series with the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park.
Feldman lost his first two starts, but has rebounded with back-to-back wins, including a solid effort in Oakland on Saturday. Feldman gave up three runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings of that one to lower his ERA to 4.81.
Feldman has faced the Mariners 27 times (13 starts) and is 5-6 against them with a 4.34 ERA.
"There's been a big improvement this year," Feldman said. "We're playing better. We're a year older and more mature. Every time we come to the field, it feels different. There's more energy, more excitement. Playing good baseball improves the environment."
Houston won its sixth straight game and capped off a nine game road trip with its eighth win on Wednesday, as Colby Rasmus hit a two-run homer and Jose Altuve added two hits and drove in a pair of runs in the Astros' 7-2 victory over the San Diego Padres.
"What a great trip -- good baseball, good adjustments on the fly, a lot of winning baseball, which is all you can ask for," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "It's a very, very good trip for this club. I'm proud of these guys and the way we're playing and the continuation of good baseball. We're taking advantage of the opportunity to win games. That's a good recipe for us."
Dallas Keuchel (3-0) gave up a run on three hits with four strikeouts in eight strong innings. His 0.73 earned-run average is the best in club history through the first five games of a year.
Randy Niemann's 0.75 ERA in 1979 was the previous low.
"I think we just wake up and it's real to us," said Keuchel of Houston's chances to make waves in the AL West "We play the game and guys are hungry. Guys want to learn, guys want to get better. We got some good veteran leadership and the young guys are trying to make a name for themselves as well."
Seattle, meanwhile, completed a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers on Wednesday, as Logan Morrison went 4-for-5 with a two-run double, Felix Hernandez put forth another effective start and the Mariners rolled to a 5-2 win.
Hernandez (4-0) held Texas' struggling offense to two runs and five hits over 6 2/3 solid innings, with Morrison's tie-breaking hit in the fifth putting the Seattle ace in line to win a third consecutive start.
Nelson Cruz added two hits, including his 10th homer of the young season, to help the Mariners record their first sweep of at least three games in Arlington since taking four straight meetings from April 12-15, 2002.
"Any time you sweep, you are extremely happy," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "Even though you win there are still mistakes that need to be corrected and certainly there are things that we need to work on."
Seattle will turn to lefty James Paxton, who is still searching for his first win of the season. Paxton lost to the Minnesota Twins his last time out, yielding four runs (1 earned) and five hits in 4 2/3 innings to fall to 0-2 on the year to go along with a 4.81 ERA.
Paxton has never faced the Astros.
Houston took two of three from the Mariners earlier this month.