(Sports Network) - In a perfect world, Cincinnati Reds starter Travis Wood would be trying for his third straight winning start. However, no offensive support in a pair of 1-0 setbacks has the 23-year-old still in search of his first major league win.
Wood will try for that elusive victory this evening, and will also be looking to help Cincinnati to its sixth win in seven meetings with the Houston Astros this year in the opener of a three-game set at Minute Maid Park.
The left-handed Wood has pitched to a 2.02 earned run average over his first four MLB starts, but only has a 0-1 mark to show for it due to some bad luck.
Wood carried a perfect game into the ninth inning of a start versus the Phillies on July 10, but got a no-decision in his team's 1-0 extra-inning loss despite allowing just one hit with eight strikeouts and no walks.
The 2005 second-round pick was nearly as sharp on Saturday versus the Rockies, but he was stuck with a 1-0 loss even though Wood gave up just a run on three hits and four walks over six innings.
"It's baseball, it's going to happen," said Wood, who has never faced the Astros, on the Reds' website. "We're a great hitting team, we're going to have our slumps where we have to scratch and claw to get a run."
Wood will be looking to extend the Reds' recent run of success over their division rivals. Cincinnati swept a three-game set in Houston from April 27-29 and has won seven of the last eight meetings between the teams at Minute Maid Park. The Reds are also 17-5 versus the Astros since the start of last season.
Cincinnati took the first two games of its recent four-game series with the Nationals, but went on to drop the final two meetings. That includes Thursday's 7-1 loss, in which Edinson Volquez allowed six runs over 2 1/3 innings of his second start since returning from Tommy John surgery.
"He was down too low with his changeup, and up too high with his fastball. So just trying to find a consistent release point," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "He had that last time out, and this time he just couldn't find it."
Cincinnati, which still trails first-place St. Louis by 1 1/2 games in the National League Central, should have Joey Votto back in the lineup tonight after resting the first baseman yesterday. Less certain is fellow All-Star Scott Rolen, who has missed the last six games because of a sore right hamstring.
Houston's Bud Norris will try to take advantage of Rolen's absence as he looks for his first win since May 13. The 25-year-old is 0-3 with a 6.15 ERA in six starts since and has dropped back-to-back outings.
Norris' last loss came on Saturday versus the Pirates. He gave up seven runs -- four earned -- on nine hits and two walks over just 4 2/3 innings, falling to 2-7 on the season with a 6.09 ERA.
The right-hander is also 0-4 with a 7.36 ERA in six home starts this season and faced the Reds for the first time in his career on April 27. Norris lost that one, getting charged with five runs on six hits and four walks over five innings.
Houston returns home tonight after a 3-3 road trip that was capped with Wednesday's 4-3 win over the Cubs in 12 innings. Jason Michaels broke a 1-1 game with a two-run, pinch-hit double in the frame and also scored on Angel Sanchez's subsequent single.
That last run was big, as Gustavo Chacin gave up a two-run homer in the bottom of the frame but still earned his fifth career save.
"We kept battling," Astros manager Brad Mills said on his team's website. "In a game like this, our bullpen was on fumes, and to see those guys come out and do what they needed to do, thank goodness for the off day [Thursday]."
Sanchez ended with three hits, while Houston's 3-4-5 hitters -- Lance Berkman, Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee -- combined to go 0-for-16 with five strikeouts.