LEADING OFF: Series wraps in Texas, Pittsburgh; Kluber back
A look at what's happening around the major leagues today:
Fighting for first place in the AL West, the Astros and Rangers finish up their pivotal four-game series. Texas has won the first three games and leads the division by 1 1/2 games over Houston. Lance McCullers (5-5, 3.10 ERA) pitches for the Astros against Colby Lewis (15-8, 4.45), who carried a perfect game into the eighth inning of his most recent outing versus Oakland.
The Cubs and Pirates wrap up a four-game set with playoff implications in the NL Central. Pittsburgh leads the wild-card standings, with Chicago running next. Both are chasing the first-place Cardinals.
Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber will start against AL Central-leading Kansas City, his first appearance since Aug. 29. The right-hander has been out with a strained right hamstring. Kluber is 8-13 but ranks 10th in the league in ERA (3.41), third in innings pitched (200 1-3) and third in strikeouts (219).
Milwaukee hopes to have Ryan Braun back in the lineup against St. Louis. The outfielder was scratched Wednesday night with lower back tightness. Braun, who missed several games earlier this season with the same issue, was batting .291 and leading the team with 25 home runs and 84 RBIs. John Lackey (11-9) pitches for the Cardinals against Jimmy Nelson (11-12).
After making up two games on the Mets in the previous two days, the Nationals try to trim New York's cushion in the NL East to seven games when Tanner Roark (4-5) faces the Marlins at home in the opener of a four-game series.