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Pittsburgh at Houston

Venue: Minute Maid Park
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With baseball's worst record all to themselves, the Houston Astros have plenty of work to do in the next month to avoid the first 100-loss season in franchise history.

The Pittsburgh Pirates can certainly relate.

A win in Monday night's three-game series opener at Minute Maid Park would give Houston the same record through 135 games as the 2010 Pirates, who went on to a 105-loss season that was the franchise's worst in more than half a century.

The Astros (44-90) have lost at least 96 games six times, but they've never made it to 100.

Hitting triple digits in the loss column is almost inevitable this September, but the Astros aren't rolling over. Just a week after winning two of three against World Series champion San Francisco at home, Houston salvaged a four-game road split against the Giants with a 4-3, 11-inning win Sunday.

"Putting them in this atmosphere is going to speed up that learning curve so much more to be involved in these types of games, and to see them come through and do those things in that situation is great," manager Brad Mills told the Astros' official website.

The Pirates (62-71) were in Houston's shoes at this time last season, just one game ahead of the Astros' current ugly pace through 134 games en route the franchise's worst finish since going 42-112 in 1952.

Now, after being in contention in the NL Central at the beginning of August, Pittsburgh is merely trying to finish strong and recover from a disastrous month. The Pirates have dropped 22 of 30 since being 1 1/2 games out of first place July 29, with Sunday's 7-4 loss in St. Louis leaving them 18 games behind division-leading Milwaukee.

Considering a loss Monday would put them closer to last place than first, they're sounding a lot like the Astros.

"I want to see everybody here bring all that they can bring every day," manager Clint Hurdle told the Pirates' official website. "There has been a lot of good that has gone on, but we have much more work in front of us."

It's unclear how much time Wandy Rodriguez (9-9, 3.41 ERA) has left in an Astros uniform, but he'll be in one at least another month. Colorado claimed the left-hander off waivers last week, but Houston ultimately pulled him back - for now.

They Astros have to hope he doesn't pitch over the final month like he did Wednesday against the team that showed interest in him. Rodriguez gave up six runs, 10 hits and four walks over six innings of a 7-6, 10-inning loss to the Rockies.

"I felt good in the bullpen but when I came into the game my breaking pitch wasn't working," Rodriguez said. "I couldn't locate it like I wanted to."

Rodriguez is 1-1 with a 5.30 ERA in three starts this season against the Pirates. Pittsburgh's Brandon Wood is 5 for 7 with a homer lifetime off Rodriguez, but Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones and Jose Tabata are a combined 3 for 33.

The Pirates will counter with Ross Ohlendorf (0-1, 7.24), who surely hopes his second start since April 8 is better than his first. Ohlendorf surrendered seven runs - four earned - and 11 hits over five innings of Tuesday's 11-4 loss to Milwaukee.

Ohlendorf is 0-6 with a 6.25 ERA in eight starts versus Houston, but he'll be facing a slightly banged-up Carlos Lee on Monday. Lee left Sunday's win with a sprained right ankle, but expects to play in the series opener.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Probable Starters

Ross Ohlendorf, RHP
2011 stats
13.2 Innings Pitched 153.0
0-1 Wins-Losses 9-9
7.24 Earned Run Average 3.41
7 Walks 53
9 Strikeouts 127
78 Pitches Per Start 105
Career vs. opponent
42.1 Innings Pitched 95.2
0-6 Wins-Losses 7-5
6.17 Earned Run Average 4.23

Wandy Rodriguez, LHP
Weather
weather image  Mostly sunny. Extremely hot.
Hi TempLo TempWindHumidityPrecip %
100°F76°F6mph/S41%4%
Standings
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Pittsburgh2nd NL Central8371.5393 ½ 8-2 L 1
Houston4th AL West6887.439284-6 W 1
BATTER VS. PITCHER (Career)
vs Wandy Rodriguez
PlayerABHHRBBSOAVG
Wood75121.714
Walker115112.455
Diaz268014.308
Doumit123004.250
Presley82003.250
 
BATTER VS. PITCHER (Career)
vs Ross Ohlendorf
PlayerABHHRBBSOAVG
Norris110001.000
Myers21001.500
Sanchez73002.429
Quintero52000.400
Lee143122.214
 
Game Odds
AwayLineHomeLine
Pittsburgh 110 Houston -120
Injuries
Pittsburgh
PlayerInjury
P. AlvarezFoot
C. MortonHernia
Houston
PlayerInjury
M. AlbersShoulder
J. CisneroElbow
J. CrainBiceps, calf
C. McHughForearm
G. SpringerKnee, quadriceps
J. ZeidFoot
 
Series Game Log
DateatResult/TimeWinnerLoser
Apr 21SEAHOU 7-2Keuchel Hernandez 
Apr 22SEAHOU 5-2McHugh Ramirez 
Apr 23SEASEA 5-3Rodney Fields 
May 2HOUHOU 5-4Bass Furbush 
May 3HOUSEA 9-8Iwakuma Keuchel 
May 4HOUSEA 8-7Maurer McHugh 
May 22SEASEA 3-1Leone Cosart 
May 23SEASEA 6-1Hernandez Owens 
May 24SEAHOU 9-4Oberholtzer Maurer 
May 25SEAHOU 4-1Keuchel Iwakuma 
Jun 30HOUSEA 10-4Walker McHugh 
Jul 1HOUSEA 13-2Iwakuma Cosart 
Jul 2HOUSEA 5-2Young Peacock 
Sep 8SEASEA 4-1Farquhar Foltynewicz 
Sep 9SEAHOU 2-1McHugh Medina 
Sep 10SEAHOU 5-2Tropeano Iwakuma 
Sep 19HOUSEA 10-5Walker Peacock 
Sep 20HOUHOU 10-1Keuchel Young 
Sep 21HOU 2:10 PM EDT