Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Houston Astros

An interesting match for all sports betting fans will be played at Houston next week. SS Jack Wilson returned to the starting lineup Thursday after being unable to play on the field for eight games because of a strained left hamstring. Wilson went 1-for-5.

1st B Sean Casey accompanied the Pirates on their six-game road trip to Cleveland and Arizona that starts Friday, and could be ready to begin an injury rehabilitation assignment by next weekend. He has been out since April 14 with two fractures in his lower back.

INF/OF Jose Hernández started at first base Thursday instead of 1st B Craig Wilson because he was 2-for-5 with two homers and a walk against Reds LHP Dave Williams. However, Hernández went 0-for-4 and has just three hits in his last 24 at bats (.125).

LF Jason Bay extended his hitting streak to 10 games Thursday as he was 2-for-5 with his second career grand slam and the Pirates' first of the season. Bay is 14-for-41 (.341) during the streak with 14 RBIs.

LHP Zach Duke pitches Friday night at Cleveland in the opener of a three-game series. Duke has lost his last two starts since throwing his first career shutout May 2 against the Cubs in Chicago. The Pirates are 49-72 all-time in interleague play, including losing 11 of their last 12 in AL parks where the DH rule is in effect

Astros' 1st B Lance Berkman, who hasn't played since Sunday because of a strained left hamstring, will likely return to the starting lineup next week. INF/OF Chris Burke, who is on the disabled list with a dislocated left shoulder, will begin a two-game rehab assignment Friday with Triple-A Round Rock.

After playing 20 consecutive games in a row, the Astros were off Thursday for the first time since 27.

"I think it's a good day for an off day," second baseman Craig Biggio said. "I think the boys just need a break. I'm not using that as an excuse for anybody. They (San Francisco) beat the daylights out of us. We need to get away to regroup, because we've got a good team coming in (Texas)."

RHP Russ Springer will likely be fined for hitting Barry Bonds on Tuesday, when he drew an ejection from plate umpire Joe West.

"They haven't gotten the tapes yet," Astros general manager Tim Purpura said. "Bob (Watson, baseball's vice president in chart of discipline) thought it would be Friday, Saturday, maybe even Monday before they do anything."

WagerWeb.com Contributing Writer

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