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WSH@ARI: Corbin fans seven over seven solid frames

It's not often when the most veteran pitcher in a matchup is 21 years old.

But that will be the case Saturday when Astros right-hander Jordan Lyles takes on fresh-faced D-backs rookie Patrick Corbin in the second game of the teams' three-game weekend set at Minute Maid Park.

Lyles, despite only being a year into his 20's, is in his second Major League season and will be making his 18th start of the year on Saturday.

Despite having a 2-9 record and a disappointing 5.47 ERA, Lyles has pitched much better in his last two outings. He's allowed just four earned runs and struck out 11 batters in his last 14 innings. Lyles will hope to continue that hot streak Saturday as he searches for his first victory since June 26.

"The thing with Lyles is we've been able to see the guy improve," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "We saw quite a few starts last year, but this year he's taken off. He's improved. We see the improvements that he's made start after start. That's what we want to see from a guy who's 21 years old -- to continue to improve and get better."

While Lyles has taken a while to get going this season, Corbin has flourished in his rookie campaign. In three Major League stints in 2012, the 23-year-old southpaw boasts a 3.41 ERA with 49 strikeouts.

Corbin has been especially impressive in his last three starts since being recalled from the Minors for the third time. The lefty is 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA with wins over the Dodgers and Nationals.

Despite the Astros sitting at the bottom of the standings in the NL Central, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson isn't taking them lightly, especially at home where they are 27-33.

"That's something that you have to guard against every day throughout the season. ... They're very good at home," Gibson said.

Astros: Niekro honored
• Joe Niekro, the knuckleball pitcher who won more games than any other pitcher in Astros history, was inducted into the Astros Walk of Fame on Friday afternoon. He's the 15th person to be honored on the walk, which sits along Texas Ave. outside Minute Maid Park.

Niekro, who died of a brain aneurism in 2007, was represented at the unveiling of his plaque by daughter Natalie Niekro. Joe Niekro won 144 games for the Astros, for whom he played 11 years in his 22-year career.

"Houston was always our home and by far out of the seven teams my dad played for, it was definitely the one he enjoyed the most," Natalie Niekro said. "So it means a lot to me. We just have to get No. 36 hanging from the rafters. That's my next mission."

D-backs: Kubel scratched with neck problem
• Jason Kubel was scratched from Friday's lineup after he continued to feel the effects of a stiff neck incurred on the D-backs' flight from St. Louis on Thursday night.

Kubel, originally batting third for Friday's game, said he fell asleep sitting up on the plane. His neck bothered him while he was hitting in the cage before Friday's game, so he told Gibson, who decided to take Kubel out of the lineup.

"That's the thing you want to try to take care of, as opposed to irritating it," Gibson said.

Gerardo Parra took Kubel's spot in left field and batted seventh. Second baseman Aaron Hill batted third.

Trainers worked on Kubel before the game, trying to remove some of the stiffness from his neck. The 30-year-old said he's dealt with neck problems before, missing a couple of games with the issue during his eight-year Major League career.

Kubel expects the issue to be a day-to-day matter and not something more lingering.

Worth noting
• The Astros Wives 23rd Annual Black Ties & Baseball Caps Gala was held Thursday at Minute Maid Park. $450,000 was raised, with proceeds benefiting the Houston Area Women's Center.

• Miguel Montero has hit safely in nine of his last 13 road games and is hitting at a .325 clip during that span with two doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs.

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