Nick Tropeano has improved steadily this month and hopes to keep climbing against the team that parted ways with him prior to last season.
The right-hander seeks his third straight win to lift the Los Angeles Angels to a series victory over the visiting Houston Astros on Sunday.
Los Angeles (22-27) won Friday's opener 7-2 before Houston (21-29) evened the set with Saturday's 4-2 victory. Dallas Keuchel pitched seven strong innings to snap a personal five-game skid and Jason Castro hit a go-ahead two-run homer as the Astros snapped a three-game losing streak to the Angels.
The Astros will try for their fifth victory in six games against a pitcher that made his MLB debut with them two seasons ago.
Tropeano (3-2, 2.86 ERA) made his first four big-league starts with Houston in 2014 but was traded to Los Angeles that November. After some success with the Angels following his call-up last September, the 25-year-old is starting to fit into their rotation nicely.
He's given up fewer runs with every start this month and allowed just one run in 13 2/3 innings over the last two, earning his first victories since his April 11 opener.
''I think in my past, I was trying to be too fine with my pitches," Tropeano said. "Trying to throw that perfect pitch instead of a quality pitch down in the zone early in the count.''
Tropeano held Texas to four hits over 6 2/3 scoreless innings in Monday's 2-0 win, striking out six. He has held opponents to two runs or fewer in seven of his nine starts.
''That's a great effort by Nick (Monday),'' manager Mike Scioscia said. ''He has good stuff, and his stuff was consistent.''
He faced his former team Sept. 23, taking a no-decision in a 6-5 Angels win. He gave up four hits and two unearned runs in 4 1/3 innings, walking two and striking out five.
Houston will send out Doug Fister (4-3, 4.12), who fell one out short of his seventh consecutive quality start Tuesday. He held Baltimore to three hits and two runs in 5 2/3 innings of a 3-2, 13-inning win.
That victory opened a three-game winning streak for the Astros before they split the opening two games of this series.
In his last five starts, all Houston wins, Fister is 3-0 with a 3.09 ERA. He has a 2.86 ERA in nine career starts against the Angels, though the last was in 2013.
Mike Trout is 4 for 10 with a double against Fister, and Albert Pujols' lone hit in eight at-bats was a home run. Both Trout and Pujols went deep Saturday, but the Angels had only one other hit.
George Springer matched them with three hits and is batting .450 in five games since being moved into Houston's leadoff spot.