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Huntington, Hurdle on acquisition of Wandy Rodriguez

Wandy Rodriguez's first appearance for the Pirates will come against the team with whom he spent the last 7 1/2 seasons. The Astros will need to beat their former starter to avoid a club-record 12-game losing streak.

Rodriguez was traded from the Astros to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. He stayed in Houston to switch clubhouses at Minute Maid Park, where he's 46-35 with a 3.44 ERA in his career. Despite pitching in 227 career games with the Astros, Rodriguez said he doesn't think he'll let emotions get in the way.

"I'll try the best I can in the game," Rodriguez said. "Only thing I can control is where I put the ball."

He's not the only Pirates player competing against his former team. Pittsburgh shortstop Clint Barmes, who played with the Astros last year, said it's always a different game when playing against old teammates.

"I enjoy those challenges, going head-to-head with guys you've spent a lot of time with. I get excited about, and look forward to, those games. So I think it will all be exciting."

Rodriguez was 7-9 with a 3.79 ERA in 21 games for the Astros this year. With so much experience in Houston, manager Brad Mills said the club will have to change its signs against the southpaw.

He'll be facing another new starter in Armando Galarraga, who will fill Rodriguez's rotation spot. Galarraga was signed on May 21 by Houston as a free agent, going 3-2 with a 4.12 ERA at Triple-A Oklahoma City. He hasn't pitched a Major League game since May 16, 2011.

Pirates: Juan Cruz starts long toss
• After playing catch for two days, Juan Cruz began loss tossing on Friday. The Pirates will soon determine when Cruz, who's been out since July 17 with elbow inflammation, can throw off a mound.

• The Pirates have homered in 17 consecutive road games. The last time they went without a home run as the visiting team was in Cleveland on June 15.

• A.J. Burnett is the first Pirates starting pitcher to win 12 of his first 15 decisions since Emil Yde in 1924, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Astros: Houston claims Fick off waivers
• The Astros claimed right-handed pitcher Chuckie Fick off waivers from the Cardinals. Fick made two appearances for St. Louis, spending most of the season at Triple-A Memphis.

• Third baseman Chris Johnson said it will undoubtedly be strange to hit off Rodriguez, but the Astros have to take it seriously once he steps on the mound.

"It is weird seeing him in a yellow jersey," Astros third baseman Chris Johnson said. "It's strange. Ever since I've been here, Wandy's been here."

Worth Noting:
• Pitcher Rudy Owens, who the Astros acquired from Pittsburgh in the Rodriguez deal, allowed three runs in five innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City. Outfielder Robbie Grossman, who was also part of the Rodriguez trade, went 2-for-4 in his debut at Double-A Corpus Christi.

• The Pirates have won eight straight against the Astros this season, and are 8-1 against them overall in 2012.

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