The Houston Astros aren't off to a great start, but they're excited to head home with at least one victory.
They're hoping for plenty more wins on their extended homestand.
Houston looks to build off its first victory of the season Friday night when it plays the Florida Marlins in its home opener.
After opening 1-6 in 2009 and 0-8 last season, the Astros (1-5) dropped five straight before defeating Cincinnati 3-2 on Thursday. Second baseman Matt Downs' go-ahead double with two outs in the ninth inning made Houston the final NL team to earn a victory.
The Astros hope for continued success as they open a season high-tying 10-game stretch at home.
"It's going to be nice to go home and get into a routine at home," manager Brad Mills told the Astros' official website. "Being there for 10 games will be nice. And obviously, we want to play well at home and start off by playing good, consistent baseball."
The Astros, outscored 37-13 while losing their first six home games in 2010, are hitting .219 with two homers and have been outscored 43-20.
Wandy Rodriguez (0-1, 15.75 ERA) is hoping for better support as he tries to bounce back from a rough first start.
The left-hander lasted four-plus innings in Saturday's 9-4 loss to Philadelphia, giving up seven runs and nine hits.
It was Rodriguez's shortest start since going three innings in a 9-3 loss to Texas on June 18.
"He's definitely much farther ahead than he was last year at this same time," Mills said of Rodriguez, who opened 3-10 with a 6.09 ERA in 2010 before going 8-2 with a 2.03 ERA in his final 18 starts.
Rodriguez could help out the club's overworked bullpen with an extended outing. Houston's starters have a combined 8.22 ERA, and the relief corps has logged 17 1-3 innings over the last five games, posting a 3.63 ERA.
While the Astros look to win consecutive games for the first time this season, the Marlins (3-3) try to rebound from a 5-3, 11-inning home loss to Washington on Thursday that prevented a third straight victory.
"We had chances to score more runs but we didn't come through,' said manager Edwin Rodriguez, whose team struck out 12 times and went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
Giving the ball to Ricky Nolasco (0-0, 2.57) could help the Marlins get off to a good start on their nine-game trip. The right-hander, tied for the NL lead with 10 road wins last season, was solid in his first outing this season, a 6-4, 10-inning loss to the New York Mets on Saturday.
Making his first start after missing the last month of 2010 with a torn meniscus in his right knee, Nolasco struck out four in seven innings of two-run ball.
He is 3-1 with a 7.03 ERA in four starts against Houston.
Nolasco should be careful pitching to Astros right fielder Hunter Pence, who is 3 for 10 with three homers in this matchup.
Marlins right fielder Mike Stanton, who pinch-hit in the ninth inning Thursday, could return to the starting lineup sometime during this three-game set after suffering a mild left hamstring strain in the April 1 season opener. He was 0 for 9 with four strikeouts against the Astros in 2010.
Houston has won 12 of 16 at home versus Florida.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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