Cubs go for fifth straight win, resume set with Astros

Rookie right-hander Jordan Lyles goes for a second win in three decisions tonight when the Houston Astros host the Chicago Cubs in game two of a three-game series at Minute Maid Park.

A 21-year-old native of North Carolina, Lyles was 2-8 in 20 appearances as a rookie with the Astros last season and took two of his first six decisions this year through the last of his starts in June.

He then went nine straight outings - including six losses - without a victory while Houston went an also disappointing 0-9.

He finally broke the streak with a 3-1 defeat of the New York Mets at Citi Field on Aug. 24 after allowing a run on three hits in six innings.

Lyles faced the Cubs twice in 2011 and picked up a pair of no-decisions after giving up 14 hits and five runs in 13 innings.

The Astros split the two starts, winning 7-3 and losing, 5-4.

Chicago responds with journeyman right-hander Justin Germano, who tries to end a four-start skid of his own.

The 30-year-old Californian was a 7-2 winner over the Astros after 6 1/3 innings of five-hit ball on Aug. 15, but has since gone 0-4 while failing to pitch beyond five innings in any of the starts - all Cubs losses.

He was reached for seven runs on seven hits in four innings of a 9-2 loss at Washington in his last start on Sept. 6.

In three career meetings with Houston, the veteran of 89 major-league outings is 1-2 with an 8.62 earned run average across 15 2/3 innings.

On Monday, Dave Sappelt went 2-for-5, driving in three and scoring once to account for all of the Cubs' runs in a 4-1 victory.

The Cubs, who have won four games in a row on the road and overall, are making their final trip to Houston while the Astros are members of the National League. Houston will join the American League West Division next season.

"Winning is always fun, so for us to win four in a row we want to keep it going," Sappelt said.

After having his two-game winning streak snapped in Washington, Chris Volstad (3-10) got back on track and earned his first road victory of the season. Although he walked five batters, he allowed just one run on four hits through five innings of work.

Jason Castro's RBI-single in the fourth brought home the only run for the Astros. Starter Dallas Keuchel was pinch-hit for later that inning, ending his outing after just four innings of work. He allowed one run on six hits.

Fernando Rodriguez (1-10) took the loss. While pitching to Darwin Barney in the sixth, he threw a wild pitch that allowed Sappelt to score the go-ahead run from third to give the Cubs a 2-1 advantage.

Carlos Marmol worked around a base hit from Fernando Martinez in the ninth, striking out Brett Wallace to end the game and earn his 19th save of the season.

"We got a lot of guys on base, but we failed to get those hits in scoring position," Astros outfielder Justin Maxwell said.

The Cubs won five of the first nine games between the teams in 2012, a year after winning eight of 15 in the 2011 season series.