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Astros Look For Rubber Game Redemption In Pirates Finale

(Sports Network) - Illinois-born southpaw J.A. Happ can earn the 20th win of his major-league career today when the Houston Astros complete a three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates today at PNC Park.

The 27-year-old, a draft pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2004, won 14 games in a Phillies' uniform between 2008 and late July of this year, when a deadline trade sent him to Houston for veteran ace Roy Oswalt.

Happ is 5-2 in 11 subsequent starts for the Astros while allowing just 48 hits and 23 runs in 63 innings and permitting a .216 opposition batting average.

He last faced the Pirates in his fourth game with Houston, allowing just three hits and two runs in six innings of an 8-2 win at Minute Maid Park on Aug. 15.

Lifetime against Pittsburgh, he's 2-1 in three starts with a 2.57 ERA.

For the Pirates, Mississippi-born left Paul Maholm tries for his 10th career win against the Astros, against whom he is 9-6 in 16 starts.

The 28-year-old, a first-round pick in 2003, last faced Houston on Aug. 14 and took a 3-2 loss after surrendering nine hits and three runs in 6 2/3 innings.

That defeat was the first of six in a row after Maholm defeated Cincinnati to reach 7-9 on Aug. 3.

He ended the slump in his last start against St. Louis, scattering seven hits and allowing two runs in a 5-2 win on Sept. 21.

Maholm is 6-9 in 16 home starts in 2010.

On Saturday, Pedro Alvarez clubbed a three-run home run and Zach Duke was solid on the mound in Pittsburgh's 6-4 win.

Jose Tabata and Ryan Doumit delivered run-scoring singles and Andrew McCutchen had two hits and scored twice for the Pirates, who defeated Houston for just a third time in 14 meetings this season.

Duke (8-14) allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out three over six-plus innings to win for the 31st time at PNC Park, the most of any pitcher in the 10-year history of the stadium.

Bud Norris (9-9) took the loss after yielding five runs on seven hits and three walks while fanning six over 4 2/3 innings for the Astros, who have lost four of their last five games.

The Astros have won 11 of 14 versus the Pirates this year and are 21-8 against Pittsburgh since the start of 2009.

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