Villone hopes to help the Astros keep pace in the NL Central as they continue a three-game series against the San Diego Padres.
The left-hander has stepped in to fill the gap in Houston’s starting rotation since Oswalt reaggravated his groin strain. Villone is 3-1 with a 3.56 ERA in his last five starts to improve his record to 6-3 on the season.
Houston hopes Villone gives them another good outing as they jockey for position with the Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central. The Astros are tied with the Cubs for first place, two games ahead of the slumping Cardinals.
Jeff Bagwell hit a three-run homer to lead Houston over the Padres 5-4 on Friday. The 35-year-old Bagwell leads the Astros with 32 home runs and 83 RBIs.
The Astros improved to 3-1 on their 10-game road trip thanks to some solid relief from closer Billy Wagner, who escaped a two-on jam in the eighth and got four outs for his 38th save in 40 chances.
“We got the potential tying run up there a couple of times, but they have a good bullpen,” San Diego manager Bruce Bochy said.
Padres closer Trevor Hoffman pitched a scoreless eighth inning, allowing a double to Richard Hidalgo. It was the second relief appearance for Hoffman, who returned Tuesday from two shoulder operations.
Phil Nevin hit a three-run homer for the Padres. Nevin is batting .268 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs since coming off the disabled list on July 23.
STANDINGS: Astros - 1st place, NL Central. Padres - 5th place, 28 1/2 GB, NL West.
ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Villone (6-3, 3.28 ERA). Villone pitched 6 2-3 innings, allowing three runs and six hits in a 3-1 loss to San Diego on Sunday. Villone is 3-3 with a 5.08 ERA in 10 outings against the Padres, including seven starts.
PADRES PROBABLE STARTER: Kevin Jarvis (4-7, 5.75 ERA). Jarvis is hoping to rebound after going 0-5 with an 8.63 ERA in August. The right-handed hurler was roughed up for seven runs and seven hits over 5 1-3 innings of an 11-6 loss to Houston.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Astros - Richard Hildalgo, .307 avg.; Jeff Bagwell, 32 HRs, 83 RBIs, 96 runs and 9 SBs. Padres - Mark Loretta, .324 avg.; Ryan Klesko, 21 HRs; Brian Giles, 74 RBIs and 77 runs; Gary Matthews and Ramon Vazquez, 10 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 2-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Astros - OF Lance Berkman is 3-for-14 with three homers lifetime against Jarvis. … LHP Wagner is 2-3 with 15 saves in 27 appearances against San Diego. … 2B Kent is batting .389 (7-for-18) with six RBIs over the last four games. Padres - 3B Sean Burroughs has a 15-game hitting streak. … RHP Rod Beck is 3-1 with a 1.55 ERA and 20 saves as Hoffman’s replacement in the bullpen. Beck is 14 saves shy of tying Bruce Sutter for 16th place on the all-time saves list. … 2B Craig Biggio hit his 13th home run on Friday. Biggio and 1B Bagwell have homered in the same game 42 times.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Astros - 31-37 on the road; Padres - 30-38 at home.
INJURIES: Astros - LHP Carlos Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Oswalt (groin), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Moehler (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Rodrigo Rosario (shoulder), 60-day DL. Padres - 1B Klesko (shoulder), out for season.