David Price hasn't registered a win in five outings, but a start against the Astros on Sunday will be his best opportunity to snap that winless streak in the rubber match.
The last time the Rays left-hander pitched against Houston, he was returning from the disabled list. After spending 47 games on the DL with a left triceps strain, Price returned in Houston on July 2 and threw a seven-inning shutout against the Astros. He gave up three hits and struck out 10 on 70 pitches.
Two starts later, on July 12, Price threw a complete game against the Astros on 87 pitches in a loss.
Price has been on an absolute tear in 2014, striking out 111 and walking just 10. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is a Major League-best at 11.1. Price is 4-6 with an ERA of 3.97.
"I'm a better pitcher now than I've ever been in my entire life," said Price. "Everything's gotten better. Every pitch has gotten better. I am hands down a better pitcher than I have been in my entire life."
Houston knows it'll be in for a tough matchup against the 28-year-old, who allowed only two earned runs and no walks with 13 strikeouts in 16 innings against the Astros last season.
"The biggest thing is getting him up in the [strike] zone, because when he's pitching down in the zone and throwing his changeup and cutter and he's got his slider, he's tough to hit," said Astros DH Chris Carter. "So you just got to tee it up, and if you got an advantage, take it."
Opposing Price on Sunday will be Astros right-hander Brad Peacock, who had a good start in his last appearance, allowing only one run and three hits in six innings. He had a no-decision in a 4-1 loss to Arizona. The Astros have won three of Peacock's last four starts with Peacock earning two wins in that span. Peacock will be facing the Rays for the first time.
"I felt great, just locating and everything, throwing my offspeed for strikes," Peacock said of his last start. "Pounded the zone, that's what I wanted to do. It worked out."
Rays: Club hoping for further turnaround
The Rays came into Saturday's game winning back-to-back games for the first time since May 22-25, when they won four straight.
Before the two recent wins, the Rays were 1-14.
Astros: Altuve misses second straight game
Second baseman Jose Altuve was out of the Astros' lineup on Saturday for the second straight game, recovering after being hit in the right hand while attempting to bunt on Thursday against the D-backs. Marwin Gonzalez was back at second base, batting eighth in the order against Tampa Bay.
Altuve fielded ground balls during batting practice, with some throwing. There's still a little swelling and soreness on his bruised hand from the effects of being hit by Randall Delgado.
A 2012 National League All-Star, Altuve leads the Majors with 90 hits and is tied for first in multi-hit games with 26. Altuve leads the American League in steals (24) and has made only two errors.
• The Astros have been hitting the long ball this season, entering Saturday with 75 home runs, fourth best in the Majors. They have 23 multi-homer games.
• First baseman Jon Singleton, who homered on Thursday and Friday, is the second player in franchise history to hit four home runs in his first 11 games, matching J.D. Martinez (2011).
Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.