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Astros Hope For Better Fortunes Against Pirates

(Sports Network) - Hard-luck lefty Paul Maholm tries to get a step closer to .500 today when the Pittsburgh Pirates host the Houston Astros in the holiday opener of a three-game series at PNC Park.

Maholm, 12 games below the break-even mark in his career entering this season, was 1-7 for 2011 following a 2-0 loss to Detroit on May 22. He's won three of five decisions across seven starts since, while paring his earned run average from 3.65 to 3.17.

The former first-round draft pick has allowed three earned runs or less and pitched six innings or more in six of his last 10 starts overall, including a complete-game shutout of the Chicago Cubs on May 28 at Wrigley Field.

He's won 10 of 16 career decisions against the Astros with a 3.31 ERA in 18 starts.

On Sunday in Washington, Lyle Overbay went 3-for-4 with three RBI and Kevin Correia cruised to his 11th win of the season, as the Pirates earned an easy 10-2 victory over the Washington Nationals in the finale of a four-game series.

Garrett Jones, Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker each added two RBI for the Pirates, who have split their last eight games.

Correia (11-6) allowed just two runs on six hits and a walk over six innings while fanning six.

For the Astros, durable righty Brett Myers tries to continue a recent stretch of good fortune.

The Jacksonville, Fla. native pitched six innings or more in 32 of 33 starts last season while winning 14 games, but had just two wins in 14 starts this year before June 17, when he pitched the full nine innings in a 7-3 defeat of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Myers' allowed just seven earned runs in his last three starts overall, giving up 16 hits over 22 innings while cutting his ERA by more than half a run from 5.03 to 4.60.

He is 6-4 lifetime against the Pirates in 12 appearances.

On Sunday in Houston, Kevin Youkilis' bases-loaded walk in the top of the ninth forced in the deciding run as Boston clipped the Astros, 2-1, in the finale of a three-game interleague set.

Brett Wallace posted two hits and Angel Sanchez knocked in the lone run for the Astros, who have lost 11 out of their last 13.

Mark Melancon (5-2) walked three in the ninth and took the loss.

Pittsburgh is 5-1 against the Astros this season.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.