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Astros Try For Series Win In Pittsburgh

(Sports Network) - Righty James McDonald makes a second career start against the Houston Astros today when the Pittsburgh Pirates host them for the third and final game of a three-game series at PNC Park.

The Pirates took their fourth game in the last six and evened the series at one apiece on Saturday, when Andrew McCutchen and Brandon Wood both doubled home a pair of runs in a 6-1 win.

Lyle Overbay belted a solo home run for the Pirates. Pittsburgh starter Charlie Morton (4-1) held the Astros to one run and seven hits in 7 2/3 innings.

Bud Norris (2-2) gave up three runs on seven hits and struck out nine over seven full frames for Houston, which has dropped three of four.

McDonald, in his first full season with Pittsburgh after splitting 2010 between the Pirates and Los Angeles, has a pair of no-decisions against the Astros in one career start and another outing from the bullpen. He's allowed seven hits and five runs in four innings against them, posting a bloated 11.25 earned run average with two walks and four strikeouts.

The 26-year-old began his season with two no-decisions and two losses in his first four starts -- all Pittsburgh defeats -- but rallied with consecutive wins over National League West Division foes San Francisco and San Diego.

In the victories, he's surrendered just two runs on nine hits in 12 innings.

Houston goes with lefty J.A. Happ, who, like McDonald, is in his first full season with his current team.

The 28-year-old Illinois native was 1-4 with a 6.35 ERA in five April starts before a 10-4 defeat of Cincinnati on May 3.

In that victory, he went 6 1/3 innings while allowing eight hits and four runs along with a walk and five strikeouts.

Happ, acquired last season in the Roy Oswalt trade with Philadelphia, has split four career starts against the Pirates while posting a 2.00 ERA -- six earned runs in 27 innings -- with 18 hits and 17 strikeouts.

Houston won 11 of 15 matchups with Pittsburgh last season, going a perfect 9-0 in Texas. The Pirates were 4-2 as the host in 2010.

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