Houston (57-49) at Atlanta (70-36)

  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Wed Jul 30, 2003
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Marcus Giles looks to keep up his hitting surge as the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros continue their matchup of division leaders.

Giles is one hit shy of tying the NL record of consecutive hits in 10 straight at bat, after the Braves second baseman went 5-for-5 to set an Atlanta record for consecutive hits in a 6-3 win over the Astros on Tuesday.

Giles hopes to tie the mark held by 10 players and last done by Cincinnati’s Bip Roberts in 1992.

“It will be on my mind,” Giles said. “But I’m going to go with the same approach as I have the last few days. It’s working for me.”

Giles broke Jeff Blauser’s Atlanta record of eight straight hits. Buddy Hassett, who holds the franchise record, is among those sharing the NL mark after stringing together 10 in a row for the Boston Braves in 1940.

Giles has hit safely in 10 straight games, batting .568 (25-for-44) with three home runs, 12 runs scored and 13 RBIs over that stretch. His batting average has gone from .286 to .320 during his hitting streak.

Houston has lost four of its last five games, but still holds a two-game lead over St. Louis in the NL Central.

To make matters worse, the Astros suffered a key injury to their starting rotation in the series opener as Roy Oswalt left Tuesday’s game in the third after reinjuring his right groin, an injury that already has sent him to the disabled list twice this season. He lasted just two innings.

“We’ll have to wait and see how he feels tomorrow,” manager Jimy Williams said. “He didn’t look right. Why jeopardize him when you can get another pitcher in.”

STANDINGS: Astros - 1st place, NL Central. Braves - 1st place, NL East.

ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Ron Villone (2-1, 2.30 ERA). Villone has allowed three runs or less in each of his seven starts for Houston. The left-hander is 2-1 with a 1.89 ERA over his last three starts. Villone took the loss in Houston’s 2-1 setback to Milwaukee on Thursday. He allowed four hits, walked six and gave up one earned run over seven innings.

BRAVES PROBABLE STARTER: Horacio Ramirez (8-3, 4.14 ERA). After some strong outings, Ramirez is winless in his last three starts. The rookie right-hander failed to qualify for a decision in his last start after holding Montreal to three runs in 7 1-3 innings of Atlanta’s 9-8 loss Friday.

OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Astros - Richard Hidalgo, .320 avg.; Jeff Bagwell, 23 HRs; Lance Berkman, 67 RBIs and 71 runs; Bagwell and Adam Everett, 6 SBs. Braves - Gary Sheffield, .325 avg. and 84 RBIs; Javy Lopez, 29 HRs; Rafael Furcal, 88 runs and 17 SBs.

SEASON SERIES: Braves, 4-0.

STREAKS AND NOTES: Astros - OF Berkman is batting .324 on the road and .261 at home. … Houston acquired RHP Dan Miceli from the New York Yankees Tuesday in exchange for a player to be named or cash. He is 1-3 with one save and a 4.02 ERA in 34 games for Colorado, Cleveland and the Yankees. … CF Craig Biggio has 2,407 hits and needs eight more to tie Mickey Mantle for 94th place on the career list. Braves - SS Furcal leads the NL with eight triples. … OF Sheffield hit his 26th home run on Tuesday. He’s batting .315 with four home runs and 14 RBIs since the All-Star break. … RHP John Smoltz leads the majors with 39 saves.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Astros - 24-29 on the road; Braves - 37-15 at home.

INJURIES: Astros - INF Jose Vizcaino (wrist), 15-day DL; LHP Carlos Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Rodrigo Rosario (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Moehler (elbow), 60-day DL. Braves - RHP Paul Byrd (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Trey Hodges (elbow), 15-day DL.

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Starting Pitchers

R. Villone WAS vs. H. Ramirez CHC
6-6 Record 12-4
4.13 ERA 4.00
91 K 100
48 BB 72
1.30 WHIP 1.39