June 16, 2016

HOUSTON -- The last time Mike Fiers took the mound against the Cincinnati Reds, it was in a different city, a different league and most notably a different uniform.

On Sunday, Fiers (4-3) takes the ball for the Houston Astros (33-36) in their series finale against the Reds (27-42) at Minute Maid Park.

Fiers, acquired in a midseason trade from the Milwaukee Brewers in 2015, will start against the Reds for the seventh time in his career but the first time as an Astro and the first time since July 3, 2015. He won that day for Milwaukee, giving up no runs and three hits in seven innings. In his career, Fiers is 2-4 against the Reds.

Fiers is coming off a win over Tampa Bay on June 11. He is seeking back-to-back wins for the first time since April 17 and 23 against Detroit and Boston.

"I think the confidence in myself," Fiers said when asked about what has been working for him lately. "Just having the confidence of throwing every pitch in different counts and not being afraid of contact.

"Pitching to contact, getting these guys to swing early and get early outs ... just try to get off the field as quick as possible."

Cincinnati starter Brandon Finnegan is another pitcher who has been riding a bit of a hot streak.

Finnegan (2-4) has registered back-to-back wins entering his 15th start of the season.

In Finnegan's last five starts, he has gone 2-2 with a 2.41 ERA while allowing just nine runs in 33 2/3 innings.

"He's been better than we could have expected for a guy with such a limited amount of professional baseball experience," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He's been even better than advertised because I didn't know he competed as well as he does. It's been, I think, the key to his success."

After a 5-4 victory in extra innings on Saturday, the Astros will try and clinch yet another series.

After dropping three of the first 12 series this season, Houston has a chance to clinch its seventh series victory in the last 10.

"We go home happy, we go home feeling good about ourselves," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said after the extra-inning win on Saturday. "We have a chance to win the series after a tough loss last night. There will be guys looking forward to getting to the ballpark tomorrow as opposed to when you lose a couple of these in a row."

For the Reds, after posting sub-.500 records in April (9-15) and May (8-20), June has been going well with a 10-7 record. Cincinnati is seeking its third series victory in its last five.

"There's people solely based on wins and losses, and we will be in a place hopefully in the next year or two where the only thing that will matter are wins or losses and we can win a World Series," Price said. "Right now, we're battling our tail off to stay in every game and have a chance to win."

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