Wandy Rodriguez is trying to make it back to the Pirates

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Out since early June with an elbow injury that was recently diagnosed as arthritis, Pirates left-hander Wandy Rodriguez threw a simulated game yesterday.

Rodriguez has gotten this far into his recovery before–and actually made a minor-league rehab appearance earlier this month–only to suffer a setback and be shut down again several times. And another setback would likely mean the end of his season.

However, manager Clint Hurdle told George Von Benko of MLB.com that Rodriguez “seemed to be in a good place” during the simulated game and “he’s getting close” to a potential return from the DL. Of course, Rodriguez rejoining the team and being impressive enough to warrant a spot on the playoff roster–and perhaps in the playoff rotation–are two very different things.

Rodriguez will almost surely pick up his $13 million player option for 2014, so if nothing else making an appearance before the season ends could provide some optimism heading into the offseason.

Astros extend winning streak to 11 games

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The Astros rallied late to keep their winning streak alive, extending it to 11 games with a 7-4 victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. The club is now 48-25, leading the Mariners by a full game in the AL West.

The Royals took a 4-2 lead after three innings, but Brian McCann knocked in a run with a single in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to one run. Carlos Correa hit a game-tying solo home run in the eighth. The Astros kept their foot on the gas, scoring two more runs on RBI singles from Evan Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez in the top of the eighth and another in the top of the ninth on Correa’s sacrifice fly.

Starter Lance McCullers allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over six innings. Tony Sipp worked a scoreless seventh. Ken Giles did the same in the eighth. Hector Rondon finished off the win in the ninth, working around a one-out walk with a game-ending double play.

After winning all 10 games on their road trip against the Rangers, Athletics, and Royals, the Astros will head home for a nine-game homestand against the Rays, Royals, and Blue Jays. Each club is below .500.