The Baltimore Orioles remain in sight of the AL's second wild card thanks greatly to Houston's struggles, but a more pressing issue is the three other teams in front of them.
The Tampa Bay Rays are further down the pack but have one more shot to hinder the Orioles' chances as the AL East foes finish their season series Sunday at Tropicana Field.
Baltimore (73-75) has won eight of 11 and two of three in this four-game series, climbing within 4 1/2 games of an Astros team which has lost five of six this week. But the Orioles still trail the Los Angeles Angels, Minnesota and Cleveland for the league's final postseason spot with 14 games to play.
"We're hanging in there," manager Buck Showalter said. "We're trying to do what we can do to get back in this thing."
The Rays (71-77), meanwhile, have lost six of eight and are 6 1/2 games back of Houston due in part to slumps by Evan Longoria (2 for 28), Logan Forsythe (4 for 25) and Kevin Kiermaier (1 for 15).
Adam Jones has keyed the Orioles' surge with 13 RBIs in his last eight games, and Chris Davis has been hot all month with a .379 average, seven homers and 15 RBIs in 17 games. Jones drove in both runs in Saturday night's 2-1 victory, while Davis went 3 for 4 with two doubles.
The pair has helped cover up a pitching staff that holds a 5.40 ERA in September, including a 6.14 mark from the starters. Kevin Gausman, though, has been one of the bright spots lately.
Gausman (3-6, 4.15 ERA) picked up his second win since joining Baltimore's rotation in mid-June by logging six innings of two-hit ball in a 2-0 win over Boston on Monday. He is 2-6 with a 4.09 ERA in 14 starts, but he has an ERA of 0.82 in his last two.
The right-hander's last start against the Rays on Sept. 2 was the shortest of his career at 2 1-3 innings, allowing eight hits and four runs in a 7-6 win. Gausman is 1-3 with a 5.97 ERA in six career starts against the Rays, with James Loney (5 for 14), J.P. Arencibia (3 for 5, two homers) and Brandon Guyer (3 for 5, three doubles) all finding success against him.
Jake Odorizzi (8-8, 3.26) will go for his third win in as many tries versus Baltimore this season. He held the Orioles to two hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 2-0 victory in his first start of the season, but gave up three homers and four runs in six innings of a 9-5 win May 31.
Manny Machado had one of those home runs but is just 2 for 13 against Odorizzi lifetime, while Jones is 8 for 17 with a home run and a double.
Odorizzi ranks toward bottom of MLB with a 3.62 run support average, but he's received a combined 12 runs of support to win his last two starts while allowing three runs in 12 innings.
"It's nice to be the beneficiary of it," Odorizzi said after Nick Franklin's two-run homer in the sixth helped him beat the Yankees 6-3 on Tuesday. "... that's been kind of tough to find this year."
Baltimore's Jonathan Schoop extended his career-best hitting streak to 12 games with a fourth-inning single Saturday.