Chicago has lost a season-high eight straight games, a skid during which it has dropped four one-run contests while scoring two runs or fewer in four of the eight losses.
Jeff Samardzija will look to put an end to the Cubs' losing streak, but he will have to do it on the road, where he has struggled, and at Minute Maid Park, where Houston has 15 wins, which trails only the Dodgers for the most home wins in the Majors.
Samardzija has been tremendous in his first year starting -- he had made only five starts in 128 games entering this year and none since 2010 -- but his home and road splits differ drastically.
At Wrigley Field, the right-hander has a sparkling 1.52 ERA and is holding opponents to a .184 batting average. On the road, however, those numbers balloon to 5.06 and .293, respectively.
Nonetheless, the 27-year-old is 4-2 with a 3.00 ERA and is among the top 10 leaders in the National League in strikeouts per nine innings at 9.35 -- impressive considering Samardzija had to earn a spot in the rotation heading into Spring Training. He will look to build off a tough loss his last time out, when he threw 7 1/3 innings while allowing three runs and striking out eight.
"It was very impressive to see him calm down after obviously a bad incident with Paul," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said, referring to a ball that got away from Samardzija in the third inning and hit Paul Konerko in the face. "A lot of times the adrenaline and heart rate gets so high, it's hard to settle down, but he was able to come back and pitch a heck of a game. That was nice."
The Astros will look to take advantage of Samardzija's road woes and finish their current homestand at 6-2 before heading to Los Angeles.
Wandy Rodriguez will get the ball and is 3-4 with a 2.24 ERA, allowing more than three runs just once this season and two runs or fewer in six of his nine starts.
Despite how well Rodriguez has thrown this year, the Astros are only 3-6 in his starts, compared to 8-1 when Bud Norris pitches.
"The way [Wandy has] been pitching, he isn't going to change a thing," Astros catcher Jason Castro said. "We need to get on the board early. Bud's been lucky in that regard in that he's been pitching great. He hasn't needed the huge run support we've been giving him, but if we could kind of do that with some of the other guys who are throwing equally well -- and with that kind of run support -- it definitely makes things a little easier. For Wandy, hopefully we come out swinging and keep adding on like we have been."
The lefty will be making his 20th career start against the Cubs and carries a 5-6 lifetime record and 3.99 ERA against them into the outing. He'll be looking for his first victory vs. Chicago since July 2010.
Cubs: Sveum will be away for Wednesday's series finale
Chicago's skipper will miss Wednesday's game to attend his son's high school graduation in Arizona.
Bench coach Jamie Quirk will fill in while Sveum's gone.
Alfonso Soriano hit his fourth homer in his last eight games, and fourth of the season, in Tuesday's loss to the Astros.
The 36-year-old went homerless in April and had a .513 OPS, but he has increased his OPS to .702 and already has more hits in May than he did in the first month.
Soriano is 4-for-35 (.114) with one homer and 11 strikeouts lifetime against Rodriguez.
Astros: Altuve shining bright
Jose Altuve is among the top five leaders among all Major League second basemen in batting average (.315), on-base percentage (.364) and hits (51).
The 22-year-old collected his 18th multihit game of the season in Tuesday's 2-1 win over Chicago, belting his third home run of the year in the process.
He leads the Astros in average and has the second-most stolen bases with nine.
Houston has the second-best run differential in the NL Central, while the Cubs have the worst in the NL.