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LAA@HOU: Harrell strikes out seven over seven innings

The Astros' American League welcome tour will rev back up on Tuesday night, when they stop by Camden Yards for the first of three games against the Orioles.

This is the Astros' first trip to Baltimore since they joined the AL, but that might be a good thing after they went 0-6 there as a National League squad.

Baltimore took two out of three in the teams' last series, in Houston in early June. Times are more desperate for the Orioles now; Sunday's loss to the Red Sox kept them from extending their tenuous advantage over the Rangers for the second Wild Card berth as the season's final third approaches.

A struggling Baltimore offense that has scored only nine runs in the last five games will have a chance to right the ship against Houston righty Lucas Harrell.

Bud Norris, the original scheduled starter for the Astros and rumored to perhaps be on the move as Wednesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, was scratched Tuesday morning.

Whereas Norris might soon be an example of another team adding pitching via trade, Orioles starter Wei-Yen Chen is an example of addition from within.

Chen returned from nearly two months on the disabled list (strained right oblique) at around the same time the O's acquired Scott Feldman from the Cubs. The two are expected to shore up a rotation that had a tough first half.

Chen has done his part, going 2-0 while allowing just five runs over 20 2/3 innings (three starts) since returning. But he allowed a game-tying two-run homer his last time out, against Kansas City, and Baltimore squandered a lead in the ninth.

"You don't want to waste an effort like that," reliever Darren O'Day said. "We scored an extra insurance run, and he pitched really well."

For Chen, the only lefty in the Orioles' rotation, Tuesday will be his 12th outing and fourth home start. At home this year, he's 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA and three quality starts. It'll be his first career start against the Astros.

Astros: Altuve not concerned about tight quad
Houston had always intended for second baseman Jose Altuve to have Sunday off, and Saturday's game made sure of it, as he experienced tightness in his left quadriceps going from first to third in the first inning and was pulled after six.

Now, with Monday's scheduled off-day, Altuve will have two days to rest.

Altuve brushed off the injury, saying he will be ready for Tuesday. He went 1-for-3 on Saturday and has reached base safely in nine of his last 11 games.

"It's one of those things [where] he could have finished the game," Porter said.

Jake Elmore got the start on Sunday in Altuve's absence, going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

Orioles: K's collecting for Davis
The Chris Davis of the first half was a home run machine, not a strikeout constant. The trend has reversed during the season's second half, with Davis homerless and fanning more than ever.

Davis has struck out in 22 consecutive games, including 19 times in 10 contests since the All-Star break. He's produced just four RBIs during that span, cooling off considerably from his first half's prodigious 37-homer, 93-RBI pace.

"You know, you go through slumps during the season," Davis said. "I was very fortunate to have very few in the first half. If I didn't feel good, it was for a couple of days, and then I would get a couple of hits or I'd walk or something like that to kind of get me going. I think it's a little bit of overswinging a little bit.

"We're obviously getting a little bit into the deeper part of the season. Guys are starting to feel the effects of the games we've played. Mentally, when you're a little fatigued and you're going up there and you're trying to hit 94, 95, you tend to try to gear up a little bit."

Worth noting
• With Sunday's loss, the Astros haven't won consecutive games since June 15-16, against the White Sox, a span of 34 games. They are 9-25 during that stretch.

• The Orioles have won eight of the last nine against the Astros dating back to 2005, dropping only an 11-7 contest on June 5 in which the Astros hit six homers. Comments