Pittsburgh (26-40) at Houston (36-33)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 80° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Tue Jun 22, 2004
  • TV: FSPI, FSSW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Kris Benson hopes to build on what he said was his best start of the year when the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates resume a four-games series with the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.

Benson lost three straight starts from May 31-June 11 before allowing one earned run and five hits over a season-high eight innings in Thursday’s 5-2 win over Anaheim. The right-hander struck out eight without a walk after dropping five of his previous six decisions.

“Without a doubt, this is the best I’ve felt in a long time,” Benson said. “I’ve had some decent starts now, and it’s given me some confidence.”

Benson had been 0-6 with a 6.30 ERA in 11 home starts dating to a win over Arizona on May 10, 2003.

The right-hander hasn’t had much career success against the Astros in his career, going 2-8 with a 4.78 ERA in 14 starts. In Houston, he is winless in six outings, going 0-4 with an 8.40 ERA—his highest ERA in any NL park.

The Astros have won three of four following a four-game losing streak, including a 7-5 victory in Monday’s series opener. Lance Berkman hit a tying three-run double and Jeff Kent drove in the go-ahead run in a big fifth inning as Houston rallied from four runs down to win consecutive games for the first time since June 8-9 at Seattle.

The Astros also improved to 18-18 at Minute Maid Park. Houston went 48-33 at home last year.

Jason Kendall, Jack Wilson and Tike Redman had two hits apiece Monday for Pittsburgh, which has lost 18 of its last 21 overall, and 14 of its last 15 at Minute Maid Park.

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Starting Pitchers

K. Benson Ari vs. R. Oswalt Col
12-12 Record 20-10
4.31 ERA 3.49
134 K 206
61 BB 62
1.31 WHIP 1.24