Cincinnati (31-24) at Houston (27-29)

Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 71° F
  • Game info: 2:05 pm EDT Sun Jun 4, 2006
Preview | Box Score | Recap

After a rough start to a grueling road trip, Cincinnati seems to have reversed its fortunes.

The Reds try for their second road series sweep of the season when they wrap up a three-game set with the slumping Houston Astros Sunday at Minute Maid Park.

Cincinnati (31-24) won its third straight game on Saturday, beating the Astros 7-5. After consecutive losses to the Chicago Cubs, the Reds have bounced back to improve to 3-2 on a 10-day, nine-game road trip, their longest of the season.

Cincinnati has outscored its opponents 24-10 after being outscored 15-6 in the first two games of its trip.

The Reds’ other road sweep this season came April 24-26 in a three-game set at Washington.

Bronson Arroyo pitched six strong innings and went 3-for-3 with a career-high four RBIs in Saturday’s win. Ken Griffey Jr. added a solo home run, the 544th of his career, for the Reds, who got six hits, six RBIs and three runs from the last three batters in their order in the first six innings.

Elizardo Ramirez (2-4, 4.11 ERA) will look to give the Reds a quality outing in the series finale. He gave up four runs and a career-high nine hits in six innings of Monday’s 7-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

Ramirez is 1-4 with a 4.33 ERA in his last five starts.

“He’s a young guy who’s come in and done a decent job for us,” manager Jerry Narron said. “He’s got to be able to pitch, got to be able to locate his pitches. He’s done a good job for us. We don’t have any complaints. We feel like he’s going to give us a good outing when he’s out there.”

Ramirez made his only career start against the Astros on April 30, allowing three runs and six hits—including two homers—in six innings of a 3-2 defeat.

Houston will counter with Roy Oswalt (5-3, 3.11), who allowed seven hits in six scoreless innings but did not receive a decision in the Astros’ 3-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday. He left the game because of tightness in his right hamstring, but a team off day on Thursday gave him an extra day to recover.

Oswalt threw a full bullpen session on Friday and said he felt okay.

“I wasn’t 100 percent, but it was a lot better than I thought it would be,” he said.

Oswalt is 0-2 over his last five starts despite earning a 3.52 ERA over that span. He has been tough against the Reds, going 15-1 with a 2.51 ERA in 20 career appearances against them.

The Astros (27-29) have dropped three straight games and 20 of their last 28. Eric Bruntlett, who has hit safely in his last six games, doubled in a run Saturday.

The Astros, who left 10 batters on base, are two games below .500 for the first time this season. They were 10 games above .500 at 19-9 on May 4.

“We seem to get in a state of panic when we don’t score runs,” manager Phil Garner said. “We get them on base and then we stall—seems like we’ve been doing it for the last 10 or 11 days.”

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Starting Pitchers

E. Ramirez Tex vs. F. Nieve LAA
4-9 Record 3-3
5.37 ERA 4.20
69 K 70
29 BB 41
1.46 WHIP 1.33