Tigers try to secure second sweep of Astros this season

The Detroit Tigers try to secure their second sweep over the Houston Astros in less than two weeks when the two clubs conclude a three- game series on Wednesday afternoon at Comerica Park.

The Tigers have won all six of their meetings this year with the Astros, who shifted over from the National League to the AL Central prior to this season. Detroit swept a four-game set in Houston from May 2-5 and have won 12 of the previous 15 encounters overall dating back to the 2000 campaign.

Houston has not won in Detroit since July 14, 2000.

The Astros built an early lead in Tuesday's meeting thanks to an RBI double by J.D. Martinez and a sac fly off the bat of Jimmy Paredes in the second inning, and starter Lucas Harrell was cruising until running into trouble in the fifth inning.

Harrell ended up allowing five runs -- all after the fourth frame -- on seven hits and three walks in five-plus innings of work as Houston lost its sixth in a row overall and for the 16th time in the last 19 contests.

"Harrell had good stuff early, but we got to him in the fifth," Detroit's Andy Dirk said.

Don Kelly, Ramon Santiago and Dirks all had consecutive run-scoring hits in the fifth frame, while Miguel Cabrera hit a solo homer in the seventh frame for the Tigers.

Detroit had lost four of five coming into this series, but now lead the AL Central by 1 1/2 games over Cleveland.

"They have good hitters," Astros manager Bo Porter said of the Tigers. "Sometimes you have to give credit to the other team."

Doug Fister, meanwhile, held Houston to the two runs on five hits over seven innings of work.

The Astros played without second baseman Jose Altuve, who was placed on the bereavement list on Tuesday. He won't play again today as Houston tries to deal Detroit starter Max Scherzer his first setback of 2013.

Scherzer is shooting for his second 6-0 start in three years after also winning his first six decisions in 2011. He is 5-0 with a 3.61 earned run average through seven outings this year and has won each of his last four starts while getting 27 runs of support over the past two.

The right-hander beat the Astros 17-2 on May 4 and did his part by holding Houston to a run on three hits and two walks while striking out eight. He improved to 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in four all-time meetings with Houston, including three starts.

Scherzer then came back to beat Cleveland on Friday with a second straight eight-inning outing. The 28-year-old wasn't as sharp, allowing four runs on five hits, though he did strike out seven without a walk in the 10-4 victory.

Left-hander Dallas Keuchel aims to build off a successful first start of the season when he goes for the Astros today.

Keuchel, who made 16 starts as a rookie last year with Houston, pitched out of the bullpen for the majority of the season before getting the start against Texas on Friday. He did not factor into a 4-2 loss, but was solid, allowing a pair of runs on five hits and two walks over six innings and a season-high 83 pitches.

"Dallas was tremendous," Porter said. "He did a great job attacking the zone, sinking the ball away and was able to pitch to both sides of the plate and get a lot of ground balls and kept us right there for six innings."

The 25-year-old is 0-1 with a 4.43 ERA in seven total appearances this year and that includes a relief stint against the Tigers on May 2. Keuchel allowed four runs on seven hits and four walks over 4 1/3 frames of his first ever meeting with Detroit, taking the loss in a 7-3 decision.