BALTIMORE -- The Houston Astros still have their sights set on a postseason berth and can take another step toward that goal if they take the series against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday at Camden Yards.
After dropping the first game Thursday, Houston bounced back with a pair of convincing victories. While the Astros trail the first-place Texas Rangers by 9 1/2 games, they are within striking distance of a wild card berth 4 1/2 games behind Baltimore.
The offense has been the key for both teams throughout the series with balls flying out of Camden Yards. The Orioles have hit 13 homers in the three games, while Houston has gone deep nine times.
"The only silver lining with their power is we kept it to solo homers by most part, or a couple of two-run homers," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said about the Orioles. "There's do doubt that these guys live and die by the home run, more so than any team in baseball. Keeping them in the ballpark is key."
Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (7-12, 4.76 ERA) starts for the Astros on Sunday. Keuchel is having an uneven season and has lost three of his past four starts. In his previous outing against the St. Louis Cardinals, he allowed six runs on six hits in five innings in the 8-5 loss.
Baltimore counters with Yovani Gallardo (4-4, 5.18). He has struggled to go deep into games this season, competing seven innings only once in 16 starts. On Tuesday, Gallardo gave up three runs on four hits and five walks in five innings against the Boston Red Sox. He didn't get a decision in the 5-3 loss.
Gallardo was hit in the right elbow on a liner by Dustin Pedroia and there were some initial concerns over whether he would be able to make the next start. But Gallardo said he suffered just a bruise and shrugged off the injury.
"It's all right," he said. "He got me pretty good, but I'll be all right."
The Orioles will likely be without four-time All-Star catcher Matt Wieters, who was placed on paternity leave Saturday. He has the option of being away for a maximum of three days.
In a corresponding move, catcher Francisco Pena was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk. In nine games with Baltimore earlier this season, Pena went 7-for-33.
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter is hopeful his team can put the past two losses behind them and salvage a split in the four-game series.
"Nobody clicks on all phases every night," Showalter said. "One day you hoping your offense is enough to cover some deficiency starting, then it's something to cover deficiencies in the bullpen maybe you don't catch the ball well that night. ... I can come up with three or four things they didn't do well. but they did something to overcome them. it's pretty tough to cover that many runs the last two nights. It's pretty obvious we need to pitch better."