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Interleague Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, July 25 (All times eastern)

Miami Marlins (48-53) at Houston Astros (42-60), 8:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Miami - Brad Hand (1-2, 4.86) Houston - Dallas Keuchel (9-6, 3.29)

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Miami Marlins try to keep rolling along when they step into Minute Maid Park on Friday night to begin a three-game interleague series with the Houston Astros.

Miami has turned things around following a five-game losing streak by winning four of its last five. The Marlins clinched a four-game set in Atlanta with Thursday's 3-2 victory.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia went 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI single off Braves closer Craig Kimbrel in the ninth that turned out to be the game- winner. Saltalamacchia picked up teammate Casey McGehee, who went 0-for-4 for the third straight day after hitting safely in 22 of 23 games. Starter Henderson Alvarez lasted eight frames and his only two runs allowed came on a Chris Johnson home run in the second inning.

The Marlins are trying to keep pace in the National League East standings as they enter Friday in third place, eight games back of Washington and 1 1/2 behind Atlanta.

Friday's opener marks the start of a season-long 10-game homestand for Houston. The Astros have lost five of seven and are coming off Thursday's dreadful 13-1 setback in Oakland.

The offense managed only six hits, although Chris Carter belted his 20th homer of the season. Despite Houston's overall offensive struggles, Carter has hit .352 with seven homers and 15 RBI over his last 14 games.

"This guy can get hot with the best of them, and when he's hot, he can carry a ballclub," manager Bo Porter said. "He's on one of those hot streaks right now, and he's swinging the bat well, and we're going to try to ride it as long as we possibly can."

Dallas Keuchel will toe the rubber for Houston Friday night. Keuchel drew some All-Star consideration thanks to a first half that saw him go 8-3 with a 2.38 ERA in his first 13 starts. Included in that stretch were two complete games and 11 quality starts.

However, he has posted a 5.02 ERA over his last six starts and is coming off another shaky outing at Chicago on Saturday, when he was tagged for three earned runs on 12 hits and exited after five innings. It marked the second time in his last three starts that Keuchel gave up 12 or more hits.

Still, Porter has stood behind the left-hander, who gets to pitch at Minute Maid Park for the first time since June 11 after making five straight starts on the road.

"When you pitch as well as he was pitching during that stretch in which he was unbelievable, throughout the course of the 33-some-odd starts, you're going to have some starts when you're not going to have your best stuff," the skipper said.

"You're going to have some games in which you give it up. I look at the full body of work, and he's been arguably our best pitcher, and he'll continue to pitch well in the back half of the season," Porter said.

For Miami, Brad Hand looks to build off his first win of 2014. The left-hander went a career-high seven frames against San Francisco on Sunday and allowed two earned runs on six hits.

Getting back into a normal routine has been key for Hand, who has shuffled between the bullpen and starting rotation this season and spent time on the disabled list in June with an ankle injury.

"I was in the bullpen, not throwing very often," Hand said. "It's a role I had never been in. I had always been a starter. I got back into my routine and what I'm comfortable doing, throwing every fifth day with my (bullpen sessions) in between. I really got a chance to kind of sharpen everything back up."

This will be the first time these two teams have met since 2012, when Houston was still a member of the National League.

07/25 10:36:34 ET