One night after one of their top starting pitchers left the game with an injury, the Houston Astros must hope another starter has put his nagging injuries behind him.
Pettitte (13-13, 4.37 ERA) was removed from his start last Tuesday with a strained flexor muscle in his left elbow. He gave up two runs in 2 2-3 innings without receiving a decision in Houston’s 6-5 loss to St. Louis.
The left-hander, who left after giving up a two-run homer to Preston Wilson, was already nursing a minor ankle sprain and fatigue that pushed his start against the Cardinals back a day.
“I’m frustrated for sure,” Pettitte said. “Obviously, you want to take the mound as much as you can, but you don’t want to go out there and walk off again. Hopefully, I’ll feel good on Tuesday.”
Pettitte said he felt better after a bullpen session on Sunday.
“I threw all my pitches and felt good,” he said. “The ankle’s a lot better.”
Pettitte is 3-3 with a 4.05 ERA in nine career starts against the Reds, including 1-2 with a 7.17 ERA in four starts against them this season.
The Astros (72-77) ended a three-game losing streak on Monday, beating the Reds 5-3 in the series opener. Roy Oswalt improved to 17-1 against Cincinnati, although he left the game in the seventh inning with a muscle spasm in his neck.
The Astros moved to within six games of the NL wild card-leading San Diego Padres, who lost 11-10 to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Reds (73-77), meanwhile, lost their third in a row and are 5 1/2 games behind the Padres.
Ray Olmedo hit his first home run of the season and Todd Hollandsworth also connected for Cincinnati, which is 6-16 since Aug. 25, when it started the day in a virtual tie with St. Louis atop the NL Central.
“We had some guys swing the bat well,” said manager Jerry Narron, whose team has scored just 12 runs in its last six games and is batting .225 since Aug. 25. “Roy Oswalt is as good as there is. We had some pretty good swings at him. I thought we had some better at-bats tonight. It looks like we’re going to come out of it and start scoring some runs.”
Aaron Harang (13-11, 3.88) will start Tuesday for the Reds. He allowed four runs in 6 1-3 innings of Thursday’s 4-2 loss to San Diego.
Harang is 0-3 with a 4.72 ERA in his last five starts, and the Reds have lost in each of those outings. The right-hander is 5-5 with a 4.10 ERA in 13 career starts against the Astros, but has won each of his three outings against them this season while posting a 2.08 ERA.
Harang defeated Pettitte in a 6-3 Reds win over the Astros on April 29, giving up three runs in 7 2-3 innings. Pettitte gave up six runs in five innings and was charged with the loss.