Collin McHugh helped the Houston Astros salvage a game against the Seattle Mariners when he bested Hisashi Iwakuma less than two weeks ago.
McHugh hopes he can help the Astros avoid a four-game series loss to their AL West rivals when he again opposes Iwakuma and the visiting Mariners on Sunday.
Houston (11-20) was denied a chance at its second straight series win - and third of the season - on Saturday when Luis Valbuena's tying solo home run to lead of the bottom of the ninth inning was wiped away with Robinson Cano's go-ahead homer - his second of the game - in the top of the 10th of a 3-2 loss to Seattle (18-12).
It was the last-place Astros' seventh loss in their last 11 games against the first-place Mariners and fourth in their past five home games.
Cano is batting .548 with three homers, three doubles and eight RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak. He is 13 for 26 with four home runs and 16 of his major league-leading 32 RBIs in six games this season against the Astros.
''It's unbelievable the run he's had,'' Mariners manager Scott Servais said. ''Certainly the damage he's done against the Astros. It's crazy.''
Iwakuma (1-3, 4.03 ERA) finally settled in during Tuesday's 8-2 win at Oakland, earning his first win a month into the season. The right-hander held the Athletics to one run and four hits in seven innings.
"I think I had a lot of life on the fastball, especially down low in the zone," Iwakuma told MLB's official website through a translator. "That was very effective. I was able to get strike one, get ahead early and that worked out well for me."
His previous start against the Astros on April 27 was a completely different story. Iwakuma surrendered seven hits and a season-high five runs in five innings, moving his career line to 4-5 with a 4.18 ERA in this series.
Iwakuma is 0-3 with an 8.05 ERA in his last four starts against the Astros, though the Mariners have won four of their last five in Houston.
Seattle is yet to lose a road series, going 13-5, and taking three of four in this one would give the Mariners wins in 17 of 23 games after opening the season 2-6.
Jose Altuve has seen the most success against Iwakuma, going 13 for 30 with five doubles and a home run. Marwin Gonzalez, Colby Rasmus, George Springer and Valbuena have also homered in the matchup.
McHugh (3-3, 6.59), who was 19-7 with a 3.89 ERA in 32 starts a season ago, didn't make it through an inning in his 2016 debut, and after one strong start, he's allowed 15 runs in 20 innings his last four. The best of those was a 7-4 win in Seattle on April 27 in which the right-hander gave up two runs in five innings.
That was his fifth win in his last six games opposing the Mariners, the outlier a three-inning, eight-run disaster on June 13. Otherwise, he has a 3.55 ERA in that stretch, though he has surrendered seven home runs in the last three meetings while striking out the same number.
Cano has eight hits in 25 at-bats against McHugh, including a double, triple and home run, while Nelson Cruz is 4 for 13 with a pair of homers.