The Astros open up a three-game series with the Braves on Tuesday night after going a season without facing them (in 2013) for the first time in franchise history.
In the past seven games, the Braves have two wins and the Astros have just one, and both enter the series on two-game losing skids.
Atlanta will send journeyman Aaron Harang (5-6, 3.83 ERA) to the hill to open the series at Minute Maid Park. The veteran right-hander is coming off an outing in which he gave up nine runs (eight earned) on a season-high 13 hits against the Phillies. Harang has a 5.46 ERA in 10 starts since he gave up just three earned runs over his first five outings.
"It was one of those days where I wasn't as sharp," Harang said. "They seemed to be all over my breaking pitches, too. I was just trying to hang in there and hoped to give our bullpen a little bit of a rest. I just had to battle through those last few innings to at least take another major blow out of the bullpen."
Scott Feldman (3-4, 3.95 ERA), who will oppose Harang on Tuesday night, has turned in a similar first few months. Since allowing one run over 20 2/3 innings to start the season, he has gone 1-4 with a 5.56 ERA in his past nine starts. He did pitch well in his latest start, though, when he allowed two runs on six hits in five innings. He was in line for the win before the bullpen gave up the lead.
"Everything felt better," Feldman said. "The arm slot felt like it was in the right spot, so I was able to throw my pitches where I wanted to throw them for the most part."
Astros: Singleton hoping to benefit from off-day
With the Astros facing lefty Erik Bedard on Sunday, manager Bo Porter took the opportunity to give struggling slugger Jon Singleton, a left-handed hitter, the day out of the starting lineup. Singleton entered Sunday in a 2-for-20 drought -- he struck out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning in Sunday's 5-2 loss.
Jesus Guzman started at first base in place of Singleton, who was taking what Porter called a "mental day."
"With it being a lefty, kind of give him a day to take a mental break and tomorrow being an off-day and get ready to go," Porter said before the game. "Like I told him, you have an off-day until the game is hanging in the balance, so be ready.
"What you hope is the time away clears your mind of a lot of the negatives that could take place when you're not swinging the bat well and that they're able to get back into the batter's box and get back on the field with a clear mind."
Braves: Gattis' historic hitting streak ended
Evan Gattis saw his hitting streak end at 20 games Sunday afternoon against Washington. Despite going 0-for-3 against the Nationals, Atlanta's catcher still owns a .294 average.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Gattis' streak was the 16th in Atlanta history (since 1966) to comprise 20 games or more. The most recent Atlanta player to reach the mark was Dan Uggla on the way to recording a franchise-record 33-game hitting streak in 2011.
Gattis batted .386 (32-for-83) with eight home runs and a 1.150 OPS during his hitting streak. Elias also noted that Gattis stood as the first player since Jason Kendall in 2004 with the Pirates to produce a 20-game hitting streak while serving as the starting catcher during every game of the streak.
• Atlanta sits in second place in the National League East, a game and a half behind Washington. The Braves had been in first place 61 days, including 32 straight days from May 9 to June 11.
• Houston second baseman Jose Altuve singled on Sunday to give him 103 hits, which leads the Majors. He has hit safely in 36 of his past 40 games.
Erik Bacharach is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.