(Sports Network) – Recently red-hot lefty Wandy Rodriguez and his similarly streaking Houston teammates try to make it three straight wins when the Astros head to Wrigley Field today for the first of three consecutive games with the host Chicago Cubs.
A 31-year-old Dominican, Rodriguez was 6-11 on the season after a 4-2 loss to St. Louis on July 11, but has since won five of seven decisions over nine starts while lowering his earned run average more than a run, from 4.97 to 3.71.
The first start in that stretch came against the Cubs on July 19, when Rodriguez allowed eight hits and five runs in six innings to get the win in Houston’s 11-5 rout at Wrigley. The victory moved him to 5-4 in 15 lifetime starts against Chicago.
The Astros come into this series after winning two of three against Arizona and five of six overall. Hunter Pence’s three-run home run in the first inning stood up as the deciding hit as Houston won, 3-2, over the Diamondbacks Sunday at Chase Field.
Pence finished 2-for-4 and Jeff Keppinger added a hit and a run scored for the Astros.
J.A. Happ (6-2) continued his fine pitching since being acquired from Philadelphia, as he yielded two runs on six hits while walking two and striking out seven over seven frames to grab the win. Astros closer Brandon Lyon worked around a one-out double in the ninth to register his 13th save.
The Cubs counter Rodriguez with rookie right-hander Casey Coleman, a 2008 draft pick who’ll start for the fourth time in his eighth major-league appearance.
The Fort Myers, FL native, a product of the fledgling program at Florida Gulf Coast University, debuted in the majors with 2 1/2 innings of relief against Milwaukee on Aug. 2. He made all seven career appearances in the month, including a 9-1 win at Washington on Aug. 23 in which he allowed three hits and a run in 6 1/3 innings.
One start since yielded a no-decision in Cincinnati, where Coleman allowed eight hits and four runs in six innings of the Cubs’ 7-5 loss on Aug. 29
In 25 overall innings, Coleman has given up 27 hits and 16 runs. He has never faced the Astros.
The Cubs will be trying to bounce back from Sunday’s lopsided loss to the Mets, in which Ike Davis finished a triple shy of the cycle, drove in three runs and scored three times as New York Mets dominated Chicago, 18-5, at Wrigley.
Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run homer and knocked in a total of three runs for Chicago, which saw a three-game win streak come to an end. Geovany Soto also homered in the loss.
Cubs starter Ryan Dempster (12-10) got rocked over 4 2/3 frames, giving up seven runs — three earned — on nine hits to suffer his second straight loss. He fanned five batters and walked four.
Houston has got the better of the Cubs for much of this season, having taken eight of 12 previous meetings between the clubs in 2010. The Astros have won four of the six matchups held at Wrigley Field as well.