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McHugh to make first start of season as Astros face Orioles

BALTIMORE -- Elbow issues have sidelined Houston right-hander Collin McHugh all season, but he will make his first start and appearance of 2017 on Saturday when the Astros take on the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.

McHugh has been out the entire season because of an impingement in his right elbow. He is 1-0 with a 6.18 ERA against the Orioles and has pitched in five games against them, all starts.

Last season, McHugh went 13-10 with a 4.34 ERA after winning 19 games the year before. He will go against Baltimore right-hander Chris Tillman (1-5, 7.20), coming off his best effort of the season in a no-decision against the Rangers this past Monday.

"Honest, (I'm happy) just being able to get out and do what I do," McHugh said. "It's what I'm here to do, and it's what I do as a career. I mean, you're sitting and you're watching for so long and rehabbing and trying everything you can to get back and just to be able to come out and do your job feels good."

The team is sending down pitcher Reymin Gudyan to Triple-A Fresno to open a roster spot for McHugh.

The Astros (64-32) will be trying to win a second straight game. They edged the Orioles 8-7 on Friday night in the series opener, ending a four-game winning streak for Baltimore (46-50).

Tillman missed the first month of the season with shoulder bursitis and has never become the pitcher he has been for the Orioles throughout his career.

He did, however, show signs of his old self when holding Texas to one run and two hits in six innings in that last start.

Tillman has a 2/3 record and a 3.89 career ERA against the Astros.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Dallas Keuchel will pitch in Lowell (Mass.) for Houston's Tri-City team (Class A short-season New York-Penn) on a rehab assignment in the next few days.

"It's a little rare for guys to rehab at that level but given we were going to be in the Northeast here in Baltimore and go to Philly after that, it was certainly the most convenient," Hinch said. "I would expect, closer to, what can simulate a five-inning game."

Hinch said the left-hander feels good and "is itching" to return. The manager added that it's possible Keuchel could pitch on this road trip if all goes well.

Keuchel is 9-0 with a 1.67 ERA this season but last pitched on June 2 and went on the disabled list on June 8.

Hinch also said Brad Peacock (Monday), Charlie Morton (Tuesday) and Mike Fiers (Wednesday, the winner of the series opener with the Orioles) will be the starters in the three-game interleague series in Philadelphia after Houston leaves Baltimore.

Also, bench coach Alex Cora left the team as he became the father of twins. Hinch said Cora should return during the Philadelphia series.

The Astros banged out 16 hits in the first game and has a major league-best .290 team batting average. This team can hit, and the Orioles know it.

"They're the best team in the American League right now," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "They're very similar to the Cubs, very athletic. It's a good club. You have to pitch well."

Showalter also said utility man Ryan Flaherty, now on the 60-day disabled list with a right shoulder strain, could go out on rehab later next week if he keeps progressing well.

The Orioles also can use Flaherty as an emergency catcher as Showalter enjoys having him on the bench because he can play so many roles.

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