KANSAS CITY -- In his second season with the Astros, Jason Michaels is making the most of his recent jump in playing time.

Michaels has only started 10 games this season coming into Thursday night's rubber match against the Royals, but he has gotten the starting nod from manager Brad Mills in the last five consecutive games.

Over those five games, he is 6-for-20 with a home run, five RBIs and four strikeouts.

"With us bench guys like, me, Geoff Blum and Cory Sullivan, [Interleague Play] is a time that we may be able to get some at-bats. Whatever way [Mills] plays it out, we just try to go in there and have a good at-bat."

Since making his first of five consecutive starts on June 8, Michaels has raised his batting average by 33 points. Michaels is now batting .221 with three home runs and 10 RBIs, with 12 strikeouts and a walk on the season.

Extra rest lifts Lyon on mound

KANSAS CITY -- Coming into Wednesday night's game against the Royals, Astros reliever Brandon Lyon hadn't pitched since June 10. The extra rest turned out to be just what he needed.

With closer Matt Lindstrom day-to-day with back spasms, the Astros had kept Lyon on reserve in case a save situation presented itself. That opportunity never materialized, and Lyon sat out for five days.

Lyon came on in the eighth inning on Wednesday and faced three batters, allowing one hit, while getting a double-play ball, as he protected his team's 4-2 lead.

According to Lyon, not pitching in a game situation doesn't mean he wasn't working every day.

"I've done this in the past," Lyon said. "You get your work in in-between outings, just going out there and trying to stay sharp as much as you can."

Actually, not pitching in a game situation for a few days may have been a blessing in disguise at this point in the season.

"Sometimes, you want those days of rest, especially for me," Lyon said. "It's a long season, and anytime I can get a few days to let my arm re-charge, and get my mechanics going, it helps a lot."

After pitching over nine seasons, Lyon has learned how to handle himself when he doesn't see the field every day.

"It's tough if you haven't done it before, but you learn from experience," Lyon said. "You just go out there and try to use your legs and throw the ball over the plate, just continue doing what you're doing -- throwing strikes and pounding the zone."

Lindstrom returns for 15th save

KANSAS CITY -- After missing six games due to back spasms, Astros closer Matt Lindstrom made his return to the mound Wednesday night, picking up his 15th save of the season.

Lindstrom gave up one hit to Jose Guillen before forcing Alberto Callaspo to ground into a double play. Mike Aviles then lined out to center field, preserving the Astros' 4-2 lead, and leaving Lindstrom unscathed.

Lindstrom said he doesn't quite feel 100 percent yet, but he is working toward getting there.

"Right now, I'm just dealing with stiffness," he said. "It's really not affecting me, it's just stiff. Before, it was back spasms and I really wasn't able to do anything, but we've been working hard to take care of it."

After missing almost a week, the right-hander said there wasn't much rust when he took the mound.

"I thought about [not pitching for a while] a little bit before I got to the mound," Lindstrom said. "I hadn't thrown off a mound in six, seven days, so I was thinking about it a little bit, but I've still been playing catch, so it worked out. I was a little rusty, but I felt like I had pretty good control."

Buffett throws out first pitch

KANSAS CITY -- Renowned financial wizard Warren Buffett threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Royals-Astros game on Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium.

Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, was a guest of Royals owner David Glass. It was the second year in a row that Buffett has done first-pitch honors.

Clad in a white Royals jersey emblazoned with "BUFFETT" and No. 1 on the back, he went to the top of the mound, looked in at catcher Jason Kendall for the sign, stretched and threw a pitch that reached Kendall's mitt on one bounce.

"If [the] press wants to know, that was my sinking slider," Buffett said as he came off the field.

Norris makes another rehab start

KANSAS CITY -- Astros starting pitcher Bud Norris made another rehab start Thursday night at Triple-A Round Rock as the right-hander works to recover from bursitis and elbow tendinitis.

Norris tossed 4 2/3 innings, allowing five earned runs on eight hits, while walking three and striking out three.

Norris threw 86 pitches, 49 for strikes.