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Preview: Astros Seek Seek Fifth Straight Against Pirates

(Sports Network) - Bud Norris will try for a third straight winning decision and lead his Houston Astros to a second consecutive victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates when the two National League Central members continue a three-game series from Minute Maid Park this evening.

The Astros won Friday's opener, 4-1, after scoring four times in the bottom of the eighth to erase a one-run deficit. Carlos Lee belted the go-ahead three- run home run for Houston.

Wilton Lopez (4-0) tossed a scoreless eighth inning to earn the win after Houston starter Brett Myers yielded a lone run on seven hits with seven strikeouts over seven frames. Brandon Lyon worked a scoreless ninth inning to earn his third save of the season.

The win was Houston's seventh without a loss over the Pirates at Minute Maid Park, where Pittsburgh has now been dealt defeats in 12 of its last 14 visits, this season. The Astros have taken eight of the 10 overall meetings between the divisional foes thus far in 2010.

Evan Meek (4-4) suffered the blown save and loss after permitting all four runs on five hits and a walk while recording only one out for the Pirates, who have now lost five in a row and eight consecutive road games.

Pedro Alvarez had three hits and a walk to lead Pittsburgh offensively, while Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen added two hits apiece.

Norris posted back-to-back wins over Chicago and St. Louis on July 28 and Aug. 3 to up his season record to 4-7, then received a no-decision in Monday's start against Atlanta. The right-hander allowed four runs and a pair of homers over 6 2/3 innings in that game.

The 25-year-old sports a 1-1 record with a 4.22 earned run average in two lifetime starts against the Pirates, with the loss taking place in Pittsburgh on July 17. Norris was hit hard in that one, surrendering seven runs (four earned) and nine hits in just 4 2/3 innings.

Norris will be attempting to improve upon a 1-4 season record at Minute Maid Park when he takes the mound tonight, and the second-year major leaguer has posted an unimpressive 6.00 ERA in nine home starts this year.

The Pirates turn to Mississippi-born lefty Paul Maholm, who's split a pair of starts against the Astros in 2010 and aims for his 10th career victory against them. The 28-year-old went the nine-inning distance in blanking Houston, 9-0, on July 18 in Pittsburgh, allowing three hits and walking no one.

The triumph erased the angst prompted by a 4-3 loss at Minute Maid Park on April 23, when Maholm was reached for six hits and two earned runs in seven innings.

He is 9-5 against the Astros with a 3.55 ERA in 15 starts.

Maholm, who's last win was Aug. 3 against Cincinnati, was on the wrong end of an 8-4 decision to Colorado on Sunday after allowing seven hits and eight runs in 2 2/3 innings.

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