(Sports Network) – Surging righty Jeff Karstens can extend his unbeaten streak to seven consecutive starts tonight when the Pittsburgh Pirates host the Houston Astros in the middle contest of a three-game set at PNC Park.
The former New York Yankees draft choice was 3-4 on the season after a 3-2 loss to the Cubs in Chicago on May 29, but is 3-0 in six starts since while reducing his earned run average to a stingy 2.65.
He tossed seven innings of two-run ball at Toronto in an interleague start on June 30 and defeated the Boston Red Sox in another interleague matchup a start before on June 25.
He’s pitched at least six innings in all six starts in the streak and has not allowed more than three earned runs in 10 straight outings.
Karstens is 2-2 lifetime against the Astros, including a 1-0 win on June 14.
For Houston, lefty Wandy Rodriguez makes his 15th career start against the Pirates in search of an eighth win.
He defeated Pittsburgh, 3-2, on May 6 at PNC Park after allowing five hits and two runs in seven innings with four strikeouts.
He’s won four of five decisions since that victory, including a 7-0 blanking of Texas on June 30, in which he allowed just four hits in seven innings while lowering his ERA from 3.21 to 2.97.
In Monday’s opener, Paul Maholm turned in a quality start and Chase d’Arnaud scored a pair of runs as the Pirates downed the Astros, 5-3.
Maholm (5-9) lasted six innings, allowing three runs — one earned — on five hits and three walks while striking out three.
D’Arnaud went 2-for-5 and crossed the plate with the eventual game-winner in the fifth on a Neil Walker single. Alex Presley added an RBI and finished 3- for-4 with a triple.
Joel Hanrahan threw a perfect ninth to record his 25th consecutive save this season.
Brett Myers (3-8) surrendered a career-high 13 hits and allowed five runs — four earned — over six innings.
Pittsburgh is 6-1 against the Astros this season.