Milwaukee (73-73) at Houston (78-68)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 66° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Fri Sep 16, 2005
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Back in the NL wild-card lead, the Houston Astros look to keep it that way as they host the opener of a three-game set with the Milwaukee Brewers.

With a 4-1 win over Florida on Thursday night, the Astros moved a half-game ahead of the Marlins and Philadelphia in the wild-card race.

Houston will send Roy Oswalt to the mound on Friday, hoping the right-hander can get better results against Milwaukee, and starting pitcher Rick Helling this time around.

In his last start, a 4-2 defeat at Miller Park on Sunday, Oswalt lost for just the sixth time in his last 20 starts. He allowed four runs and eight hits over six innings, striking out five and walking one.

“I felt OK,” Oswalt said. “My command was pretty good. That’s the way it goes.”

Helling pitched very well in his fourth start of the season, working seven scoreless innings with a season-high six strikeouts. Derrick Turnbow pitched the ninth for his 31st save in 34 chances.

“That was probably the least amount of curveballs I’ve thrown in my entire career,” Helling said. “I had a pretty good cutter today and I was locating my fastball pretty well, so I stayed with that all day.”

Although they remain a longshot, the Brewers have managed to keep themselves on the fringe of the wild-card race. Milwaukee has won seven of 10 and is five games behind wild card-leading Houston.

Milwaukee’s Bill Hall had a career-high five hits in a 14-2 rout of Arizona on Thursday, but was immediately focused on his club’s next opponent.

”(Friday) I’m going to face Roy Oswalt, and I can’t think about the five hits I got today, because he’s a really good pitcher,” Hall said.

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Starting Pitchers

R. Helling Mil vs. R. Oswalt Col
3-1 Record 20-12
2.39 ERA 2.94
42 K 184
18 BB 48
1.16 WHIP 1.20