Houston (40-34) at Texas (27-45)

Sunny Currently: Arlington, TX
Temp: 63° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Sun Jun 22, 2003
  • TV: KNWS
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Houston Astros hope Jeriome Robertson can help them sweep the Texas Rangers in the first half of the Lone Star series at the Ballpark in Arlington.

Robertson can also avenge a 7-2 loss at Texas last Sept. 2, when he made his major league debut. He lasted just 2 2-3 innings, giving up two earned runs, a walk and six hits.

The 26-year-old left-hander is unbeaten in nine starts since a 10-2 at Montreal on April 25. He is 3-0 over that span, allowing more than three earned runs only twice.

Houston, which came into this series with losses in six of its previous seven games, has scored 21 runs in taking the first two meetings with Houston, including Saturday’s 9-5 victory.

Jeff Kent, the Astros’ leader in batting average and RBIs, has yet to play in the series. The second baseman has missed the last three games with a sore left wrist. He is listed as day-to-day.

The Astros got homers from Craig Biggio, Richard Hidalgo and Jeff Bagwell in beating the Rangers for the sixth time in seven games.

Houston leads the all-time series 9-5.

Rafael Palmeiro hit his 505th career homer and Hank Blalock also connected for Texas, which lost its sixth straight overall.

The Rangers have dropped 18 of 20, matching their worst-ever 20-game stretch, set in September 1972.

Texas has lost seven straight series, and is 0-8-1 in its last nine.

The teams meet for three games next weekend in Houston.

STANDINGS: Astros - 1st place, NL Central. Rangers - 4th place, 21 GB, AL West.

ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Robertson (4-3, 6.03 ERA). Houston is 7-1 in Robertson’s last eight starts. He didn’t get a decision for the third straight outing Tuesday, allowing three earned and eight hits over six innings in the Astros’ 4-3 victory over Arizona.

RANGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Joaquin Benoit (2-2, 5.57 ERA). Benoit, who has been on the disabled list with tendinitis in his right elbow, will make his first start since a 7-1 loss at Baltimore on May 31. The right-hander gave up two earned runs, four walks and six hits over 5 2-3 innings. Benoit, who has never faced the Astros, is 2-0 at home this season despite a 5.82 ERA in three starts.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Astros - Kent, .313 avg. and 50 RBIs; Morgan Ensberg and Jeff Bagwell, 13 HRs; Lance Berkman, 50 runs; Adam Everett, 6 SBs. Rangers - Hank Blalock, .340 avg.; Juan Gonzalez and Alex Rodriguez, 18 HRs; Gonzalez, 50 RBIs; Carl Everett, 51 runs; Rodriguez, 7 SBs.

INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Astros - 9-5. Rangers - 2-12.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Astros - Right-handers are batting .313 against LHP Robertson this season. … Biggio, who hit his 32nd career leadoff homer to extend his NL record Saturday, is batting .313 (15-for-48) over his last 10 games with two homers, three doubles and five RBIs. … RF Hidalgo has three homers and five RBIs over his last five games. Rangers - RF Gonzalez was out of the starting lineup for the third straight game Saturday. He is day-to-day with tightness in his left groin. … Texas has the majors’ worst ERA at 6.23. … With his homer Saturday, 1B Palmeiro moved into 18th place on the career homer list, passing Eddie Murray. He is one behind Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Astros - 17-20 on the road; Rangers - 16-20 at home.

INJURIES: Astros - 2B Kent (wrist), day-to-day; LHP Carlos Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Moehler (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Roy Oswalt (groin), 15-day DL. Rangers - OF Gonzalez (groin), day-to-day; INF Herbert Perry (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Chan Ho Park (oblique), 15-day DL; RHP Jeff Zimmerman (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Rusty Greer (neck), 60-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Robertson NYM vs. J. Benoit SD
15-9 Record 8-5
5.10 ERA 5.49
99 K 87
64 BB 51
1.52 WHIP 1.43