The Houston Astros just hurt one of their division rivals' playoff chances. So did the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Astros and Diamondbacks look to extend their respective winning streaks to four Friday night at Chase Field in the opener of a three-game series.
A 36-53 first half essentially knocked Houston (62-71) out of playoff contention, but the Astros are eight games above .500 since the All-Star break.
Winners in nine of its last 11 games, Houston completed a three-game sweep of St. Louis with a 5-3 victory Wednesday that dropped the Cardinals eight games behind NL Central-leading Cincinnati.
"It's been exciting," the Astros' Nelson Figueroa said after throwing five innings of two-run ball. "We play exciting baseball and we're always putting the pressure on the other team and it's only going to make us better going down the stretch and looking forward to next year."
Arizona (55-79) is also looking forward to next season, but with four straight victories over NL West-leading San Diego in the last eight days, the Diamondbacks are impacting the playoff race.
"The guys have been playing good baseball and hopefully we can keep it going," center fielder Chris Young said after Arizona capped a three-game sweep of the Padres with Wednesday's 5-2 victory. "It's nice to know we can make a difference."
Brandon Allen needed one game to make a difference for an Arizona team averaging 7.7 runs and batting .304 while winning six of seven. Called up from Triple-A Reno earlier in the day, the converted first baseman hit a grand slam and made a number of nice catches in left field Wednesday.
"He was very comfortable out there," Diamondbacks interim manager Kirk Gibson said.
Daniel Hudson (4-1, 1.85 ERA) is also looking right at home with his new team as he gets ready to take the mound in the opener. Since being acquired from the Chicago White Sox on July 30, the right-hander has pitched at least seven innings in each of his six starts.
Hudson, who struck out six in seven innings of Saturday's 11-3 victory at San Francisco, will face Houston for the first time.
The Astros are averaging just 3.1 runs per game during their 9-2 surge, but the pitching staff has posted a 1.47 ERA over that span.
Brett Myers (10-7, 2.97), who will start the opener, has been a major contributor to the Astros' second-half turnaround, going 4-1 with a 2.12 ERA in his last nine starts. The right-hander has pitched at least six innings in 27 consecutive starts, breaking the team record held by Larry Dierker in 1969-70.
"I know you guys are tired of me saying it, but another outstanding outing," manager Brad Mills said after Myers threw seven shutout innings in Saturday's 4-1 win at the New York Mets.
Myers is 2-2 with a 4.14 ERA in six career starts against Arizona.
Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew, who is batting .444 with four homers and nine RBIs in the last eight games, is 3 for 7 with two doubles lifetime against Myers.
Astros right fielder Hunter Pence, a .349 career hitter at Chase Field, is batting .348 with eight homers and 31 RBIs since July 21.
Arizona has won seven of eight in this matchup, including three of four in Houston from May 3-6.