By MATT BEARDMORE
(AP) -- Jeanmar Gomez couldn't get the Cleveland Indians back on track the last time he pitched.
The right-hander can help the AL Central leaders continue their run when he takes the mound this time.
Cleveland goes for its first five-game winning streak in more than a year Saturday against the slumping Houston Astros.
Staked to a 2-0 lead, Gomez (4-6, 4.95 ERA) was tagged for a career high-tying eight runs - four earned - over 4 1-3 innings of Sunday's 9-5 loss to Pittsburgh. Three Asdrubal Cabrera errors in that contest contributed to the Indians (37-32) losing for the fifth time in six games.
Cleveland, though, has gone undefeated since then - three of the wins coming by one or two runs - to build a 1 1/2-game lead in the division.
It's the Indians' largest edge since leading by that margin May 26.
"When you win those (close) ballgames, it's a good sign," manager Manny Acta said following Friday's 2-0 series-opening victory.
So is the Indians' recent starting pitching performances. With Ubaldo Jimenez striking out eight in 6 2-3 innings Friday, Cleveland's starters have fanned 19 and yielded one earned run in 22 1-3 innings over the last three games.
Gomez will try to continue that string of strong starts - and give Cleveland its longest winning streak since a seven-game run April 26-May 3, 2011 - but he has a 7.92 ERA while going 1-4 in his last five outings.
Trying to avoid losing a career high-tying third consecutive start, the right-hander will face a Houston team that's struck out 34 times and is batting .181 with one total run scored during its three-game losing streak.
The Astros (28-42), losers of five of six at Minute Maid Park, are 2 for 19 with runners in scoring position in the last two games.
"(The offense) is going to come," said manager Brad Mills, whose team is a season-worst 14 games below .500.
That would help left-hander Dallas Keuchel (0-0, 1.80 ERA), who will make his first start at Minute Maid Park.
In place of the injured Bud Norris (sprained knee), Keuchel walked four and did not earn a decision after giving up one run in five-plus innings of Sunday's 9-3 loss at Texas.
"Any time a guy can come in and do what he did in his first major league start, it's a success," Mills said. "He had the bases loaded in the third and the fourth, and he walked four guys, but he battled through it.
"He made pitches when he had to."
Keuchel needs to be ready to do that early Saturday when Indians leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo will try to hit safely in a sixth consecutive game. Choo, who started Friday's contest with a triple and scored on Cabrera's sacrifice fly, is batting .409 (9 for 22) with a homer and five doubles during his modest hitting streak.
The Indians have won four straight during interleague play after opening 4-8 against the NL in 2012.
Houston has won just three of 21 at home against the AL.
Updated June 23, 2012