June 10, 2014

The Arizona Diamondbacks couldn't handle the Houston Astros at Chase Field, so they'll now have to try to figure them out at Minute Maid Park.

The emerging Astros return home Wednesday night with their two longest winning streaks of the season having come in the final eight days of May.

After Tuesday's 8-5 victory in Arizona, the Astros (24-29) have won a season-best four in a row and seven of eight to close out May after falling to 17-28. It comes after never winning more than two in a row in the first 45 games.

The offense deserves most of the credit with eight runs in each of the last three games while batting .331. George Springer is hitting .457 in the past eight and went 6 for 8 with a home run and five RBIs in the two games in Arizona. Jose Altuve is 8 for 16 in the last three.

''We're playing with more confidence, it's simple as that,'' Tuesday's starter Lance McCullers said. ''We have guys taking confident ABs, guys pitching with confidence and we're starting to hit on all points of the game when we need to, which is nice to see."

The Diamondbacks (23-31) have lost six of eight and head to Houston with a three-game road losing streak. Over those eight, Arizona's starting staff has posted a 9.30 ERA. Its starters Monday and Tuesday combined for 6 2/3 innings.

That loads the pressure on Robbie Ray (2-4, 4.67 ERA) to eat some innings. Ray, however, hasn't made it beyond five in his last two starts. He lost both and gave up five runs and nine hits with two homers in Friday's 10-3 home defeat to San Diego.

The left-hander got off to a strong start with a 1-0 record and 1.96 ERA while making it through at least six innings of his first three outings. In his last seven, he's 1-4 with a 6.15 mark.

He struck out eight and needed 97 pitches against the Padres.

"I felt good coming out of the bullpen," Ray told MLB's official website. "I felt strong with all my pitches, and I was able to get out of some jams there, but I just left a few pitches up, and they made me pay for it. It's just frustrating because I know I'm better than that."

Ray is 1-1 with a 4.30 ERA in three starts against Houston, and those have totaled just 14 2/3 innings. Altuve is 4 for 8 against him, while Springer is 3 for 4.

Houston counters with Mike Fiers (3-3, 5.20), whose latest start makes Ray's look respectable. Fiers gave up seven runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings of Friday's 7-2 loss at the Los Angeles Angels. In three starts since his last win, the right-hander is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA.

Six of the seven runs came in one inning against the Angels.

"I just gave up a couple of bloop hits to the bottom of the order, then a couple of big hits to (Mike) Trout and (Albert) Pujols to open it up," Fiers said. "They came out swinging from the start. I've just got to make better pitches. I didn't show them any curveballs at all, and I think they really capitalized."

He's 1-2 with a 5.63 ERA in three starts against the Diamondbacks. Paul Goldschmidt is 3 for 8 with a home run and two doubles in the matchup, while Yasmany Tomas is 2 for 3 with a homer.

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