Cubs ready to say bye-bye to Houston

Joe Mather gets a second consecutive chance to lead the Chicago Cubs to a victory as he makes his return to the lineup’s top spot Monday against the Houston Astros.

Despite the fact that the series will match the teams with the two worst records in baseball, it will at least carry some minor significance. It will be the last time the two teams play each other in Houston as National League foes, with the Astros set to move to the American League next season.

Mather, the Cubs’ right-handed hitting utility man, is coming off a three-hit game Sunday at Pittsburgh when he batted leadoff.

Mather is not only benefiting from Brett Jackson’s bruised right knee, he is also getting playing time because the Cubs are facing a left-handed pitcher for the second consecutive game. The Astros have lefty Dallas Keuchel on the mound.

Also in the lineup for the second consecutive day is the right-handed hitting Dave Sappelt, who is once again playing right field for the left-handed hitting David DeJesus.

The Cubs are hoping to continue the momentum built in Pittsburgh when they delivered their first three-game road sweep of the season. The last time they swept a road series was in August of last year when they took four consecutive games from the Pirates.

While the Pirates are in playoff contention, the Astros’ season has been so bad that a three-game sweep by the Cubs this week will put them at the 99-loss mark. The Cubs enter Monday’s game with a 54-86 record.

The Cubs complete lineup against Keuchel:

Mather, CF

Darwin Barney, 2B

Anthony Rizzo, 1B

Alfonso Soriano, LF

Starlin Castro, SS

Welington Castillo, C

Josh Vitters, 3B

Sappelt, RF

Chris Volstad, P