Houston (45-48) at Chicago (35-56)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Chicago, IL
Temp: 61° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Tue Jul 18, 2006
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Roy Oswalt can’t be faulted for the Houston Astros’ recent problems. The Chicago Cubs, meanwhile, have taken plenty of blame upon themselves for their latest loss.

Oswalt, who has gotten little offensive help recently, tries to win his first game in more than a month Tuesday when the Astros face the Cubs in the opener of a three-game series at Wrigley Field.

After pounding Florida 12-0 on Saturday, the Astros (45-48) lost 9-3 to the Marlins in the series finale Sunday, falling further behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central race.

“We’re not playing to get ties,” said Astros manager Phil Garner, whose team split the four-game series.

It’s been a rough four weeks for Oswalt (6-6, 3.06), who has gone at least seven innings in four of his past six starts—and received just two runs of support in his last four. Oswalt has a 2.81 ERA in that span, and Houston is 11-15 since his last win, June 14 against the Cubs.

Oswalt, though, had perhaps his most frustrating start of his winless streak against the Cubs, pitching a complete game but allowing the contest’s lone run on July 5.

The right-hander is 10-7 with a 3.70 ERA in 19 starts and one relief appearance against Chicago. Cubs catcher Michael Barrett is batting .434 (10-for-23) with one home run and a double against Oswalt.

Oswalt gave up one run and six hits in 6 1-3 innings in Houston’s 5-1 win over the Florida Marlins on Thursday in which the Astros scored four in the eighth.

Lance Berkman, who scored Houston’s first run Sunday and drove in the other two, is 9-for-18 with a home run and six RBIs in his last four games, and has 14 RBIs in his last 11.

Chicago (35-56) gave up 11 runs in the sixth inning in a 13-7 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday.

The Cubs misplayed a number of balls in the fateful inning, which was the first time in club history they gave up two grand slams in the same inning.

“I’m responsible for the 11 runs that inning,” said Cubs second baseman Todd Walker, who made two errors in the inning. “You can pin this game on me. I don’t know what to say—these fans have been so good to me and I go out there and do that and it’s humiliating.”

Juan Pierre also got a late jump on a Carlos Delgado single that dropped in front of him.

“I’ve been saying this all year, but you’ve got to put those things behind you and move forward,” Barrett said.

Pierre had four of the 15 hits for the Cubs, and Barrett added RBI doubles in the first and second innings to help Chicago grab a 5-0 lead. Pierre has 22 hits in his last 12 games, batting .429 in that stretch.

Rookie Carlos Marmol (2-3, 4.23 ERA) gets the start for the Cubs after earning his second career win in his last outing. The right-hander limited the Milwaukee Brewers to one run and three hits in six innings in a 3-1 win July 8.

Marmol has faced the Astros twice this season, including a start on July 3 in Houston. He took the loss in that game, allowing four runs, five hits and seven walks in 4 1-3 innings.

The Cubs are 2-7 against the Astros, who swept a three-game series at Wrigley Field from June 13-15.

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Starting Pitchers

R. Oswalt Col vs. C. Mármol Cin
15-8 Record 5-7
2.98 ERA 6.08
166 K 59
38 BB 59
1.17 WHIP 1.69