Houston (21-19) at Pittsburgh (16-24)

Fair Currently: Pittsburgh, PA
Temp: 47° F
  • Game info: 12:35 pm EDT Thu May 15, 2003
  • TV: FSSW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Now that they’ve figured out how to beat the Houston Astros, the Pittsburgh Pirates will try to salvage a split of the teams’ four-game series at PNC Park.

Kenny Lofton’s two-run homer backed Jeff D’Amico’s seven shutout innings as Pittsburgh snapped its 10-game losing streak to Houston with a 3-2 win Wednesday.

It was Pittsburgh’s longest losing streak against an opponent since dropping 11 straight to the Cardinals in 2000-01. After the win, Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said his team will be back in the NL Central race.

“I’m telling you now, we’ll be in this race a month from now—and you guys (the media) will be saying that I told you so,” McClendon said. “These guys are competitors and they’re going to compete. The Pittsburgh Pirates are not going away.”

By winning, the Pirates have a chance to split the four-game set. The team has lost its first six series at home this season.

Lofton’s homer was his third of the season, and his second hit of the game as he extended his hitting streak to 14 games. He is hitting .411 (23-for-56) during the streak.

The Astros had won three straight, and 10 of 12, before dropping Wednesday’s contest, and are hoping that Roy Oswalt can help the team resume its winning ways.

The right-hander is winless in his last four starts, losing three of them, including a 5-3 defeat at Philadelphia on May 9. He allowed three runs—the fourth straight game he allowed three runs or less—and six hits over six innings.

Part of the problem is the Astros don’t score when Oswalt pitches, having just a total of 11 runs in his last four starts

STANDINGS: Astros - 2nd place (tied), 2 1/2 GB, NL Central. Pirates - 5th place, 7 1/2 GB, NL Central.

ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Oswalt (2-4, 3.76 ERA). Oswalt has seven career starts against Pittsburgh, going 4-2 with a 2.36 ERA.

PIRATES PROBABLE STARTER: Kris Benson (4-4, 3.73 ERA). After getting battered for six runs and eight hits just 2 1-3 innings of an 8-1 defeat at Houston on May 5, Benson rebounded nicely with a solid effort in his last start. The right-hander allowed two runs and eight hits over eight innings— his longest outing of the year in a 5-4 win over Arizona on May 10. Like his first outing against the Pirates this season, Benson has struggled in his career against the Pirates, going 2-6 with a 4.83 ERA in 11 career starts.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Astros - Jeff Bagwell, .314 avg. and 11 HRs; Jeff Kent, 28 RBIs; Craig Biggio, 27 runs; Richard Hidalgo, 4 SBs. Pirates - Randall Simon, .301 avg. and 20 RBIs; Reggie Sanders, 6 HRs; Lofton, 21 runs; Lofton and Pokey Reese, 6 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Astros, 6-1.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Astros - The Astros outscored the Pirates 52-23 in their first six meetings. … RHP Oswalt has allowed three home runs in his last two starts. … Houston has hit 10 homers against RHP Benson, the most homers he’s allowed to any opponent. Pirates - Pittsburgh will be without 2B Reese for the next two-to-three months, as he was placed on the disabled list with a damaged left thumb ligament. … The Pirates are 4-10 in May this season and 22-49 in the month since 2001. … RHP D’Amico’s victory in Wednesday’s game was only the second by a Pittsburgh starter in 13 games.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Astros - 9-12 on the road; Pirates - 6-15 at home.

INJURIES: Astros - LHP Carlos Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Moehler (flexor), 15-day DL. Pirates - 2B Reese (thumb), 15-day DL; RHP Josh Fogg (abdominal), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Lincoln (shoulder), 60-day DL; LHP Dave Williams (shoulder), 60-day DL; IF Pat Meares (hand), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

R. Oswalt Col vs. K. Benson Ari
10-5 Record 5-9
2.97 ERA 4.97
108 K 68
29 BB 36
1.14 WHIP 1.55