Astros-Rangers Preview

Scott Kazmir's July was among the best in baseball history so it's not a big surprise that he now leads the league in ERA.

The AL West-leading Houston Astros just want him to help them snap their four-game road skid.

Kazmir looks to extend his shutout streak as the Astros face the Texas Rangers in the finale of this Lone Star Series on Wednesday night.

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In five starts last month, Kazmir (6-5, 2.10 ERA) went 2-0 with a 0.26 ERA, the third-lowest for July in major league history.

"This month, being able to use all my pitches and being able to have a feel for them in any count, that's been the key," Kazmir told MLB's official website.

The left-hander has displayed that dominance with the Astros (60-48), tossing 14 2-3 scoreless innings over two starts since being acquired in a trade with Oakland.

He's closing in on the longest shutout streak by a Houston starter since Carlos Hernandez went 17 innings from Aug. 18-29, 2001.

Kazmir limited the Los Angeles Angels to three hits over 7 2-3 innings in a 3-0 win Thursday.

"I felt good every time I went out there," Kazmir said. "Every pitch I was throwing, it felt like I was able to hit the spot I wanted to and just keep hitters off balance. I was able to attack the strike zone early and expand later on, and that gave me success."

Kazmir is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 21 innings over three starts against the Rangers (53-53) this year but this will be his first with Houston.

The Astros have dropped 10 of 11 on the road, including four in a row after falling 4-3 to Texas on Tuesday.

Carlos Gomez is 8 for 23 in five games since moving to Houston in a trade from Milwaukee. The center fielder has four hits in this series, connecting for a solo homer and an RBI double on Tuesday.

He's a .400 hitter in 11 games in Arlington.

The Rangers are back at .500 after winning six of the last seven at home following a 1-12 stretch there. They're two games back of Toronto for the second wild-card spot.

"Five hundred is not where we want to be," manager Jeff Banister said. "It's just a number we've got to get to (in order) to go where we want to go."

Banister gives the ball to Nick Martinez (6-6, 4.01), who is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in three starts against Houston and will be pitching on his 25th birthday.

The right-hander earned his first win in seven starts Friday, allowing two runs over 6 1-3 innings in a 6-3 victory over San Francisco. He went 0-4 with a 7.01 ERA in his six prior outings.

"I was able to locate (the inside fastball) for effect and for a strike," Martinez said. "I don't throw 95, so I can't just live outside. I have to throw inside so I can keep guys on their toes on both sides of the plate."

Martinez has had a tough time with Jose Altuve, who is 4 for 10 with three doubles off him.

Texas' Josh Hamilton is 7 for 19 with two homers against Kazmir.