After losing 213 games the past two seasons, Houston (4-11) was hardly expected to be competitive in its first AL season, and the Astros have already produced their second skid of five games or more after getting swept in Oakland this week.
In Wednesday's finale, Houston's rally from a six-run deficit fell short in a 7-5 loss.
"We have a resilient group and we will continue to battle to the end," manager Bo Porter said. "I don't believe in moral victories; you either win or lose. But at the same time I liked that we kept fighting."
The Astros return home trying to avoid a sixth straight loss at Minute Maid Park.
Harrell (0-2, 5.63 ERA) will hope to help snap that skid after bouncing back from a disastrous home outing against Oakland by holding the Angels to a run over 5 2-3 innings Saturday. Houston's bullpen, though, failed to hold a three-run lead in a 5-4 defeat.
The Astros will also try to hand Myers (0-2, 8.82) another loss in his return to Houston. The right-hander started 66 games in 2010-11 before working as a reliever in 2012 and recording 19 saves in 21 tries.
Myers was traded in July to the White Sox, who later declined to pick up his option. He signed a one-year, $7 million contract with Cleveland in January but hasn't fared well so far with his new team.
Myers, though, had his best start of the season Sunday after getting tagged for seven runs in each of his first two games. He gave up two runs over six innings to the White Sox in a 3-1 defeat.
"It's easy to tell somebody to have confidence," manager Terry Francona said. "But once you do it and you feel good about yourself, the idea then is to grow off of that and continue to do that. I'm sure it helped. It should. He threw the ball very well."
Myers will try to build on that outing while helping the Indians (5-9) avoid a 10th loss in 13 games. Cleveland has been outscored 22-9 during its latest skid, which hit four with Thursday's 6-3 loss to Boston.
The loss of leadoff hitter Michael Bourn has hardly helped. The former Astros outfielder, who was batting .333, was placed on the disabled list Wednesday with a lacerated right finger suffered in Sunday's loss to the White Sox.
Bourn's absence might help Harrell avenge a hard-luck 2-0 defeat to Cleveland on June 22. He had a career-high nine strikeouts while giving up one run and two hits over seven innings.
The Astros bounced back to win the final two games in that series, the first meeting between the clubs in 11 years.
|April 16, 2013||Jason Kipnis||Day-to-Day||Sore elbow|
|April 15, 2013||Michael Bourn||15-Day DL||Right hand laceration|
|April 14, 2013||Michael Bourn||Day-to-Day||Left game - right hand laceration|
|April 09, 2013||Lou Marson||15-Day DL||Cervical neck strain|
|April 06, 2013||Lou Marson||Day-to-Day||Cervical neck strain|
|April 03, 2013||Scott Kazmir||Day-to-Day||Sore abdominal muscle|
|April 05, 2013||Travis Blackley||15-Day DL||Left shoulder strain|
|April 04, 2013||Josh Fields||15-Day DL||Right forearm strain|
|March 31, 2013||Alex White||60-Day DL||Right elbow strain|
|March 27, 2013||Fernando Martinez||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
HOUSTON (AP) -- Houston's Lucas Harrell struggled with his command on Friday night and was livid when he was pulled in the sixth inning.
His night ended up turning out all right though thanks to a strong performance by the Astros bullpen.
J.D. Martinez and Rick Ankiel hit back-to-back homers in the second inning and the Astros held on for a 3-2 win over the Cleveland Indians .
The win snaps a five-game skid for Houston and extends Cleveland's losing streak to five.
Harrell (1-2) allowed two runs in 5 2-3 innings before three relievers combined to shut Cleveland out the rest of the way.
Closer Jose Veras allowed one hit in the ninth for his first save in two tries.
"I was struggling to throw strikes again, it's just kind of been a trend right now," Harrell said. "It's something I need to work on between starts and definitely focus on that. If the defense wouldn't have played so well and if we wouldn't have scored some runs early, it could have been a rough night."
Carlos Pena walked with one out in the second inning before Martinez got Houston's first hit by launching a homer in the stands in right field off former Astro Brett Myers (0-3) to make it 2-0. Martinez left the game with a sprained knee in the fourth inning.
Ankiel followed with another homer to right field to push the lead to 3-0.
Lonnie Chisenhall closed the gap to 3-2 when he connected on a homer that sailed just inside the foul pole in right field in the fourth inning.
Myers, who was facing Houston for the first time since a trade last summer, allowed five hits and three runs with four strikeouts in five innings. He has given up an MLB-high 10 home runs with an 8.02 ERA in four games with three starts this season.
Harrell was chased by a single by Mark Reynolds with two outs in the sixth inning, and was none too happy about it. He stalked off the field before throwing his glove, hat and a cup of water when he reached the dugout.
He yielded five hits and two runs with five walks and four strikeouts.
Wesley Wright and Hector Ambriz combined to allow two hits in 2 1-3 innings before Veras came on for the save.
"I stress this all the time: there are going to be different break points in the game, and when you win those break points you put yourself in the best position to win the ball game," Houston manager Bo Porter said. "And we were able to do that tonight, and those guys continued to make pitches and made quality pitches to get out of those tough jams."
The Indians couldn't string together any hits late in the game as they fell to 0-10 this season when trailing after six innings. Jason Kipnis singled with two outs in the seventh inning before Asdrubal Cabrera struck out swinging to end the inning. The frustration for Cabrera, who is hitting .138, was evident after the strikeout when he angrily threw his bat.
Nick Swisher doubled to start the eighth before Carlos Santana drew a one-out walk. But Reynolds grounded into a double play to end the threat.
The Indians haven't been able to generate much offense this season and have been held to three runs or less in five straight games and 10 of 15 overall.
"We did have opportunities," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I think what happens sometimes is, guys try too hard. We had a couple of chances, and we rolled over. We had opportunities to win that game because of our pitching."
Martinez left the game in the fourth inning after spraining his right knee while batting. Martinez was injured on a check swing. His knee buckled and he fell to the ground in pain.
He remained on the ground for a couple of minutes while Astros trainers attended to him. He was then helped to his feet and hobbled with assistance back to the dugout. He was replaced by Brandon Barnes and is listed as day to day.
He said after the game that he was "achy and sore" but that he should be OK.
"I was just bummed out more that I couldn't finish the game really," Martinez said. "I was feeling good and I knew it was going to be a good game."
NOTES: The Astros observed a moment of silence before Friday night's game to remember the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings and those killed and injured in the fertilizer plant blast in West, Texas. The Astros are also accepting donations this weekend at the ballpark to send to those affected by the explosion at the fertilizer plant. ... When the jumbotron inside of the park showed television footage from Boston between innings indicating that the second marathon bombing suspect had been taken into custody, fans cheered loudly and some broke into a chant of "USA, USA." ... These teams continue the series on Saturday when Cleveland's Scott Kazmir is expected to come off the disabled list to make his first major league start since April 2011 against Philip Humber . Kazmir, who was on the DL with a rib cage strain, spent last season in the independent Atlantic League with the Sugar Land Skeeters. "The biggest thing is just getting him stretched out again so he can get deep enough into games," Francona said. "He can pitch and he's not going to be scared. So we're excited about it." ... Kipnis was back in the lineup after missing five games with a sore left elbow. ... Cleveland third base coach Brad Mills made his first trip back to Minute Maid Park since being fired as Houston's manager in August. He said it was weird to be back as an opposing coach and that he doesn't have any regrets about his time with the Astros. "(You) try to do the best you can and try to help these guys get better," he said. "I think that was our goal every day and I think that we did that with the guys that were here. Personally you are rooting for the players individually because you spent so much time with them."... Cleveland pitcher Matt Albers was moved from the family medical emergency list to the restricted list on Friday, but Francona said he could be activated on Monday.