With a string of games against sub-.500 teams coming up, the Arizona Diamondbacks would appear to have a good chance to make a postseason push.
The Diamondbacks begin that promising stretch Friday night with a visit to the major league-worst Houston Astros .
Time is drawing short for Arizona (59-59) to make its move toward a second straight postseason berth, but the Diamondbacks have 10 straight matchups against teams with losing records: Houston (39-80), Miami and San Diego.
Arizona could use some success in those games as it's currently 5 1/2 back in the NL West and six games behind the NL wild-card leaders.
The Diamondbacks helped themselves Thursday when they avoided a three-game sweep in St. Louis with a 2-1 victory. Paul Goldschmidt and Chris Young hit back-to-back home runs in the ninth inning for their team's fourth victory in 12 contests.
"It's been a slow go for us, and we were getting shut out again," manager Kirk Gibson said. "We had good life tonight. Guys were upbeat right until the end and good things happened."
Arizona hasn't earned back-to-back wins since claiming four straight July 30-Aug. 3, and will try to pull off that feat by continuing its dominance over the Astros. The Diamondbacks have won nine of 10 matchups, including a three-game sweep at Chase Field from July 20-22, and seven of eight in Houston.
Wade Miley (12-8, 3.02 ERA) earned a win in the middle game during that July series - his only matchup with Houston - by yielding one run over seven innings.
The left-hander, though, is coming off one of his worst outings of the season, giving up six runs over 4 1-3 innings in a 6-5 defeat to Washington on Saturday. He had given up three or fewer runs over each of his previous five outings and one run in each of the previous two.
"I wasn't executing pitches. I was staying middle," he told the team's website. "I wasn't commanding the ball at all."
Miley might have a chance to bounce against the Astros, who are 12-48 on the road, 8-22 against NL West opponents and 7-37 in their last 44 overall.
He'll also pitch opposite Dallas Keuchel again in this game. The rookie left-hander gave up seven runs to Arizona during the shortest outing of his career, 3 1-3 innings, on July 21, and his struggles have continued.
Keuchel (1-4, 5.29) is 0-4 with a 7.84 ERA over his last six games but has given up four runs in each of his last two games. He avoided taking losses in both contests, and gave up just two earned runs and five hits over six innings during his team's 6-5 win over Milwaukee on Saturday.
"It's nice to be able to go out there and command the ball to both sides of the plate and up and down," Keuchel said. "I felt good from the get go."
Jason Kubel hit a pair of home runs off Keuchel during the most recent matchup, but he's batting .167 with three homers over his last 18 games.
|August 14, 2012||Takashi Saito||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|August 09, 2012||Willie Bloomquist||15-Day DL||Lower back stiffness|
|August 09, 2012||Josh Collmenter||15-Day DL||Ulcers|
|August 06, 2012||Henry Blanco||15-Day DL||Sprained left thumb|
|July 09, 2012||Wil Nieves||15-Day DL||Turf toe, right foot|
|June 27, 2012||Daniel Hudson||15-Day DL||Right foream tightness|
|August 07, 2012||Jordan Schafer||15-Day DL||Left shoulder separation|
|August 02, 2012||Francisco Cordero||15-Day DL||Inflamed right big toe|
|July 31, 2012||Wilton Lopez||Day-to-Day||Right elbow tightness|
|July 15, 2012||Jed Lowrie||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle|
|July 14, 2012||Jed Lowrie||Day-to-Day||Right ankle|
|July 08, 2012||Jason Castro||15-Day DL||Fluid in right knee|
HOUSTON (AP) -- With more than 100 family and friends in attendance, Arizona starter Wade Miley wanted to put on a good show Friday night and help his team build on a comeback win a night earlier.
Done and done.
Miley pitched six solid innings and drove in a run to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 3-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Friday night.
"Didn't come easy for sure, but Wade held us in there, six strong innings," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. "We kind of scratched and clawed three runs out of this game."
Miley hit a sacrifice bunt and Chris Young doubled in a run in the fifth for Arizona, which has won seven consecutive games against the Astros. Paul Goldschmidt added another RBI double in the eighth.
Many of Miley's relatives and friends drove five hours from his hometown of Hammond, La., to watch him.
"I heard them," Miley said. "It was fun."
Houston has dropped four of five to fall to 6-28 since the All-Star break. The Astros are 39-81 overall for the worst record in the majors.
Jose Altuve and Ben Francisco had two hits apiece, and Tyler Greene hit a sacrifice fly in the fifth for Houston's only run.
Miley (13-8) allowed eight hits, struck out five and walked none in his first win since July 31 at Los Angeles. The left-hander was 0-2 with a 3.48 ERA in his previous two starts.
"It was a battle," said Miley, who had trouble locating his fastball. "But any time you get a win is a good day."
Brad Ziegler , Daniel Hernandez and J.J. Putz each worked a one-hit inning to close it out. Putz struck out Steve Pearce with a runner at second for his 15th straight save and 24th overall.
The Astros were held to two runs or fewer for the third time in four games, despite outhitting Arizona 11-6. Houston stranded 10 and went 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
"Anytime you get 11 hits and only score one run, there's going to be some frustrations coming through," Astros manager Brad Mills said.
Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel (1-5) gave up two runs and four hits in 6 2-3 innings, but remained winless since June 23 at Cleveland. He is 0-5 with a 6.18 ERA in his last eight starts.
Houston, which has struggled at the plate for much of the season, came close to being shut out for the 12th time.
Greene's one-out fly ball to center was deep enough for Marwin Gonzalez to score, cutting Arizona's lead in half.
"We haven't been very good winning games in which we haven't scored a lot of runs, but last two nights have been very good," Gibson said. "We hope that continues."
NOTES: Diamondbacks OF Jason Kubel was scratched with a sore neck. ... 3B Chris Johnson faced his former team for the first time since the Astros traded him on July 28 for minor leaguers Bobby Borchering and Marc Krauss. Johnson went 0 for 3 with a walk. ... Former Astros knuckleballer Joe Niekro was enshrined into the Astros Walk of Fame outside Minute Maid Park. Niekro pitched for the Astros from 1975-1985. He died in 2006 at age 61.