San Diego (45-37) at Houston (38-42)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 71° F
  • Game info: 2:05 pm EDT Mon Jul 4, 2005
  • TV: Ch4, FSSW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Houston starter Roy Oswalt has been strong all season. Lately however, he’s been nearly untouchable.

Oswalt looks to win his fifth straight start as the Astros open a four-game series with the San Diego Padres at Minute Maid Park.

Oswalt allowed just six hits in seven scoreless innings of Wednesday’s 7-1 win at Colorado’s Coors Field. The 27-year-old right-hander has allowed just three earned runs in 31 1-3 innings during his winning streak, which started with a complete-game, 3-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on June 12.

Oswalt, who struck out six and walked just one, has allowed two or fewer earned runs in nine of his last 10 starts. His ERA ranked third in the National League heading into Sunday’s games.

“He is one of the best,” Colorado’s Brad Hawpe said. “The combination of hard stuff and offspeed stuff make him that way—he varies his speed so well. And he’s a tough competitor.”

Oswalt will square off against San Diego’s Brian Lawrence, who has also been pitching well lately. The 29-year-old right-hander allowed two earned runs and five hits in 7 1-3 innings of Tuesday’s 8-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers despite battling an illness.

Lawrence, who threw 114 pitches, is 2-0 with a 2.27 ERA over his last five starts and has not allowed a homer in his last three starts after giving up seven in his previous five outings.

“His past four or five starts he’s really been locating his sinker and not leaving many balls out over the middle of the plate,” said Robert Fick, who caught Lawrence on Tuesday. “He kept his slider down tonight. He did everything I asked of him. He was awesome. He showed some guts out there.”

The Padres beat the San Francisco Giants 9-6 on Sunday for their fifth win in eight games. Khalil Greene drove in four runs and Brian Giles had three hits and three RBIs for San Diego, which had five extra-base hits.

Dave Roberts, thought to be a candidate for the disabled list, returned to the Padres’ lineup after missing seven games with a strained tendon in his left knee.

The Astros beat the Cincinnati Reds 9-0 on Sunday behind seven shutout innings from ace Roger Clemens. Willy Taveras tied his career high with four hits, including three infield singles, Morgan Ensberg homered and Lance Berkman and Brad Ausmus each drove in two runs for Houston, which finished its seven-game road trip with five wins.

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Starting Pitchers

B. Lawrence LAA vs. R. Oswalt Col
7-15 Record 20-12
4.83 ERA 2.94
109 K 184
57 BB 48
1.37 WHIP 1.20