Pittsburgh at Houston

Venue: Minute Maid Park

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 image  Mostly sunny. Extremely hot.
Hi TempLo TempWindHumidityPrecip %
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Pittsburgh2nd NL Central8874.54326-4 L 2
Houston4th AL West7092.432283-7 L 2
vs Wandy Rodriguez
vs Ross Ohlendorf

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Game Odds
Pittsburgh 110 Houston -120
P. AlvarezFoot
C. MortonHernia
C. StewartWrist
M. AlbersShoulder
J. CisneroElbow
J. CrainBiceps, calf
D. DownsOblique
G. SpringerKnee, quadriceps
J. ZeidFoot
Series Game Log
Apr 20SEA10:10 PM EDT  
Apr 21SEA10:10 PM EDT  
Apr 22SEA10:10 PM EDT  
Apr 30HOU   
May 1HOU   
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Jun 12HOU   
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Jun 19SEA10:10 PM EDT  
Jun 20SEA10:10 PM EDT  
Jun 21SEA 4:10 PM EDT  
Aug 31HOU   
Sep 1HOU   
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Sep 28SEA10:10 PM EDT  
Sep 29SEA10:10 PM EDT  
Sep 30SEA10:10 PM EDT