Norris will take the mound in Friday's series opener against the D-backs looking to notch his first win since May 21. Since starting 5-1 with a 3.14 ERA, Norris has gone 0-6 with a 7.26 ERA in his last seven outings and has taken the loss in six consecutive starts, the longest stretch of his career.
His most recent outing Sunday was just his second official quality start in that span, but it was far from impressive. The right-hander battled his way through six innings against the Giants, allowing just three earned runs, but he also issued a season-high six walks in the 3-2 defeat.
"I wasn't very sharp," said Norris, who posted seven quality starts in his first nine outings before the recent slump. "I struggled a lot early to find my consistency. I wanted to throw a lot more strikes, but I didn't. I thought I was close on a bunch. It's been frustrating."
Since returning from the disabled list with a sprained knee, Norris is 0-3 with a 4.26 ERA.
When Norris toes the rubber again Friday, he'll be facing an Arizona squad that's just happy to return home in the midst of playing 20 games in as many days.
After starting the second half with a seven-game road trip to Chicago and Cincinnati, Arizona will settle in for a 10-game homestand starting Friday before taking off for the West Coast and a three-game set with the Dodgers.
Manager Kirk Gibson has used a different lineup in each of the last four games and expects to continue doing so in an effort to keep his players fresh.
"There's an expense of hurting somebody and their performance, I think it wanes as well," Gibson said. "Normally, I would be more matchup-oriented, but you just have to do it."
For D-backs right fielder Justin Upton, stints like these simply require adjusted workout and practice schedules.
"I think it's just being smart with your work load before the game and try to stay as fresh as possible," said Upton, who has played in 86 of the team's 92 games. "You're making sure you get your work in, but don't exert yourself too much and try to preserve your energy. Just being smart throughout the stretch is probably the biggest thing."
Astros: Castro hoping to return next week
Catcher Jason Castro, who had his right knee drained and underwent a pain-killing injection on Wednesday, is aiming to return from the disabled list next week.
"A pretty significant amount of fluid came out, and it looked like they made a pretty successful draining of it," said Castro, who was placed on the DL on Sunday with what the team is calling right knee effusion. "I had a shot in there, and hopefully, in the next few days, it starts to really feel better and I'm able to get back to being a lot more active and get more aggressive movements and see how it feels from there."
Manager Brad Mills said Castro had better range of motion on Thursday.
Since June 7, second baseman Jose Altuve is batting .211 in 123 at-bats.
D-backs: Cahill looks to maintain consistency
Arizona will kick off the homestand by calling on right-hander Trevor Cahill, who will look to continue a productive first season with the D-backs.
The 24-year-old enters Friday's series opener with a 7-8 record and a 3.71 ERA after being acquired from the A's in an offseason trade. Aside from a rocky June 20 start in which he allowed six runs in six innings, Cahill is 4-3 with a 2.69 ERA since the start of June.
Upton is 3-for-3 with a homer and two RBIs in his career against Norris.
Friday marks the clubs' first of six meetings this season. The D-backs have won each of the past five season series, posting a 24-12 record in that span.