'Stros send youngster to hill at Detroit

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Astros will roll the dice and go with a 21- year-old pitcher making his second major league appearance on Saturday as they battle the Detroit Tigers in the third portion of a four-game series.

Lance McCullers, who recently came up from Houston's Double-A Corpus Christi organization, will make his second career start for the 'Stros after a strong outing on Monday. Detroit will send Kyle Lobstein to the mound in the contest.

McCullers threw the ball well in his big-league debut against Oakland, giving up just three hits and one run in 4 2/3 innings of work. Houston ended up with the 2-1 loss, but McCullers was tagged with a no-decision.

He threw 93 pitches in his first outing before giving way to Joe Thatcher. McCullers struck out five batters in the game, and owns a 1.93 earned run average entering Saturday..

"First night, adrenaline pumping, he made some really good pitches for strikeouts," Houston manager A.J. Hinch said after McCullers's debut. "For a major league debut and with all the attention around him, I thought he handled it really well."

Detroit's own youngster hits the mound Saturday in Lobstein. The 25-year-old is trying to better a 3-4 record and a 4.29 ERA as he gets set for his eighth appearance this season. He's struck out just 19 batters and has walked 13 in 42 innings of work so far.

Lobstein has lost two games in a row and three of his last four starts. On Monday, he lasted 6 2/3 innings after allowing seven hits and three earned runs to Milwaukee in a 3-2 Tigers loss. That defeat came directly after his worst outing of the season, in which he pitched just 2 1/3 innings and surrendered six runs.

In four home starts this year, Lobstein is just 1-3 with a 5.32 ERA and 13 runs allowed in 22 innings pitched.

The Tigers got the best of Houston Friday night in the second game of the lengthy series. Detroit owned a 3-2 lead over the visiting Astros at the end of the third inning, then added some insurance in the home half of the eighth for a 6-2 victory.

Alfredo Simon pitched a strong game for Detroit, going seven innings and giving up just four hits and two runs - none of them earned. He was able to nab his fifth win of the season, while Joba Chamberlain and Tom Gorzelanny each pitched an inning to close the door.

Luis Valbuena and George Springer gave the Astros a 2-0 advantage in the top half of the third, but J.D. Martinez changed that quickly in the bottom of the inning with a three-run home run that also plated Jose Iglesias and Anthony Gose. Martinez had two hits on the night and led the Tigers with three RBI.

Springer and Jason Castro had two hits apiece for the Astros - the only four hits for the team on the night. Jose Altuve, who was fifth in the league in hits entering the contest (53), went 0-for-4 at the plate.

James McCann added two RBI and Rajai Davis drove in a run of his own in the win. Collin McHugh was hit with the loss for Houston after pitching seven innings of nine-hit, three-run ball.