June 14, 2015

The Houston Astros' strong start looked to be crumbling amid an extended losing streak marked by lack of offense, but they've responded in impressive fashion.

Riding a red-hot lineup to three wins in the last four games, Houston faces a Colorado Rockies team that's had its own problems scoring runs Tuesday night.

Houston (37-28) managed two or fewer runs six times during a seven-game skid which it snapped with a 10-0 win over Seattle on Friday. The Astros fell 8-1 the next day, but have totaled 19 runs in winning their past two over Seattle and Colorado.

George Springer went 3 for 4 with two home runs in Monday's 6-3 victory, extended his hitting streak to eight games and giving him a .600 average in the past five.

He added two nifty catches in right field.

'George is playing complete baseball I think on both sides of the ball and we're watching him mature right before our eyes and he's an exciting player when puts things together like this,'' manager A.J. Hinch said.

Carlos Correa also had three hits - a career best - and Colby Rasmus hit a three-run homer in Houston's sixth home win in eight games this month. The Astros are among the major league leaders with 4.3 runs per game.

''This team in general is just very aggressive,'' Monday's losing pitcher Chad Bettis said of Houston.

Chris Rusin (2-1, 3.38 ERA) is next in line to try and shut down the surging Astros offense, but he gave up six runs and 11 hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 6-0 loss at Miami on Thursday. The right-hander had posted a 1.45 ERA in his first three outings.

Rusin will oppose Vincent Velasquez in his second career start. The right-hander pitched well in his major league debut, working around four walks and three hits to throw five scoreless innings in a 4-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.

"I struggled with (getting ahead) a little bit and lacked a little bit of consistency, and I've just got to work on it," Velasquez said. "This game will change, and I have to prepare myself in the next (bullpen session) and put it toward the next outing."

He joined Jarred Cosart (2013) and Carlos Hernandez (2001) as the only Astros starters to go five or more scoreless in his debut.

Velasquez faces a Rockies team that has totaled nine runs through five games of a six-game road swing. Troy Tulowitzki and Nolan Arenado each had an RBI on Monday, but they've combined to go 7 for 36 over the previous five.

Charlie Blackmon has also contributed to the struggles, going 3 for his last 15, while D.J. LeMahieu is 0 for 9 in his last two.

Colorado has lost four of its last five against Houston.

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