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HOU@CIN: Myers pitches 6 1/3 solid innings

Brett Myers has been with Houston for a little more than one season, but in that time he has become as consistent a pitcher as you will find in the Majors.

The 30-year-old right-hander has picked up where he left off last year, throwing six-plus innings in each of his two starts. Getting through six has become more or less expected since Myers signed with the Astros prior to the 2010 season. He has gone that distance in 34 of his 35 starts with the Astros. Last season, Myers set a club record by lasting six or more innings in his first 32 starts of the season -- becoming one of five pitchers since 1920 to last at least six innings in their first 32 starts of the season.

On Tuesday, the Astros expect similar results from Myers as they try to bounce back from Monday's 5-4 loss when they face James Russell and the Cubs.

Myers has experienced success against the Cubs throughout his career, going 10-3 with a 2.21 ERA in 17 games (13 starts). He dominated the Cubs last year, going 3-0 with a 1.21 ERA in four starts. Almost all of Chicago's hitters have struggled against Myers in their careers; Marlon Byrd (.300, 6-for-20) is the only Cub who is hitting above .300 with more than eight career at-bats against Myers.

One Cubs slugger, Aramis Ramirez, loves hitting in Houston, with 20 home runs and 59 RBIs in 301 career at-bats at Minute Maid Park.

"Houston is a good place to hit," Ramirez said. "A good hitter's ballpark down the lines, it's deep in center field."

Even with his success at Minute Maid, Ramirez has still struggled against Myers. The Cubs' third baseman enters Tuesday 8-for-37 with 11 strikeouts against the Houston right-hander.

Cubs: Russell making first start
Russell, a 25-year-old left-hander, will make his first career start on Tuesday. Russell said he's fresh and felt good with his work leading up to Tuesday's start. He's only scheduled to stay in the rotation for one turn, but if he pitches well, he could earn another. "If I do more than one start, awesome," Russell said. "Any time you can show somebody you can do anything out of the ordinary, it's a good thing. I'm in the big leagues. That's all that matters." In limited experiences against the Astros, Russell has held them hitless in 3 1/3 innings of relief, spanning five appearances.

• One day after suffering a mild left hamstring strain, Cubs right fielder Kosuke Fukudome sat against the Astros. Fukudome is listed as day to day and has not been placed on the disabled list. Manager Mike Quade said Fukudome and the training staff will determine when the outfielder will return to the field. "If you push the envelope, it becomes six weeks, instead of four, five days," Quade said. "He felt better this morning, and I think after some sort of workout today and another good night's sleep, we'll take a look. He's too valuable to just send him out."

Astros: Several players take early BP
Chris Johnson, Matt Downs, Brett Wallace and Joe Inglett took early batting practice on Monday at Minute Maid Park, and hitting coach Mike Barnett said he'll have groups take early hitting from time to time during the season. "Wally just wanted a few extra swings and so did C.J.," Barnett said. "C.J. wanted to work on staying behind the baseball and inside the baseball and just to get a few extra swings. Joe's playing [in the starting lineup Monday] and he wanted to get a few extras to stay sharp, and the same thing with Downs. The guys coming off the bench, you like to get those guys as many swings as you can during the day. That's why Downs jumped in. More than anything -- it's not really working on anything super special -- just getting some extra swings."

• Shortstop Clint Barmes, who broke a bone in his left hand when he was hit by a pitch in a March 25 Spring Training game, swung a bat Monday for the first time since his injury, taking about 20 swings without any contact. He continues to make solid progress and could make his Astros debut by the end of the month. "It's definitely getting better day to day," Barmes said. "Dry swinging [Monday], it was still sore and I could still feel it, but it's getting stronger. I can do a lot more with my hand in the weight room and can grip more things. It's definitely heading in the right direction."

Worth noting
Starlin Castro's stolen base on Monday was the Cubs' first swipe of the year. Prior to the game, the Cubs were the only team in baseball yet to steal a bag. It was the longest the Cubs had gone without a stolen base since a 12-game drought to begin the 1941 season. ... Inglett made his first start with the Astros on Monday, going 1-for-5. ... Astros shortstop Angel Sanchez hit his first career home run Monday. Comments