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HOU@CHC: Norris strikes out five over six innings

In Houston on Wednesday, the Rays will look to end one streak while simultaneously extending another.

Winners of four straight and seven of its last nine, Tampa Bay will send Roberto Hernandez to the mound to face Houston with the right-hander trying to end a three-game skid.

The Rays' hot stretch comes after they dropped eight of 11 games from June 12-22. The club hopes its mojo will rub off on Hernandez, who went 1-4 in June with a 5.18 ERA.

In his last start, the 32-year-old took a step in the right direction despite taking the loss, giving up just three runs on six hits over eight innings against the Blue Jays.

"I thought Roberto was fantastic," Rays manager Joe Maddon said after the game. "That probably was his best game all year: one walk, seven punchouts. The ball was alive; the sinker was very good, the slider, everything was good today with him, too. It's just unfortunate we got outpitched today. But I thought Roberto pitched probably his best start as a Ray."

Opposing Hernandez for the Astros will be Bud Norris, who has also lost three consecutive decisions.

But Norris has been spectacular at home, posting a 2.38 ERA during 10 starts in Houston. That is good enough for sixth in the American League in home ERA. The run support has not been there, though, as he has just a 3-3 record in those 10 starts.

His last time out, Norris dominated the Angels, allowing just one unearned run and four hits over seven innings, but Houston lost, 4-2, as Norris got a no-decision.

The Astros have lost five straight games, with the offense being shut out the last two nights.

"The good thing for me is, I don't get caught up in the streaks or the numbers," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "I deal with one game at a time. That's just like, you look at last night's game, when you don't play well, you don't pitch well or hit well, it's easy to just look at the game and go, 'They outplayed us.' When you look at the schedule, if you get caught up in what happened yesterday or last week, it takes away from your ability to focus on the game."

Rays: Price recalled, Roberts sent down
To make room for the return of reigning AL Cy Young Award winner David Price, the Rays optioned infielder Ryan Roberts to Triple-A Durham. Price was the Rays' starting pitcher Tuesday and tossed seven shutout frames.

Roberts was sent down a day after collecting three hits, including two home runs, in Monday's 12-0 win.

"It's difficult; the guy has a great game [Monday], but he kind of knew that it might be forthcoming," Maddon said. "He'll be back."

Astros: Ambriz optioned, Oberholtzer promoted
The Astros optioned relief pitcher Hector Ambriz to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday and called up Brett Oberholtzer in his place.

Ambriz struggled mightily in the last four weeks, giving up seven runs and 15 hits over his last 6 2/3 innings of work.

"Quite frankly, our feeling was Ambriz needed a break," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "He's a good Major League pitcher who's not had a lot of success the last couple of weeks. We feel like there's probably a few things he needs to work on down there to get back in a groove so he can help us later this year."

Oberholtzer was a starter for the Redhawks, posting a 4.60 ERA and 5-6 record in 15 starts. He opened his second stint with the Astros this year by surrendering three runs in two innings Tuesday.

Worth noting
• The Rays own a seven-game winning streak vs. the Astros.

• This series began a stretch of 14 straight games for the Rays heading into the All-Star break against teams currently under .500. Comments