Hoping their ace can help them break out of a prolonged slump, the struggling Houston Astros turn to Oswalt on Wednesday for the second contest of a three-game series against the Reds, a team he has dominated throughout his career.
Before last April, Oswalt (3-2, 3.43 ERA) was 15-0 against the Reds, the longest streak without a loss for one pitcher against one team in major league history.
He lost his April 28, 2006 start against them, but has won consecutive starts since then to improve to 17-1 with a 2.54 ERA in 22 career games - 20 starts - against Cincinnati.
“I don’t try to figure it out,” Oswalt said after defeating the Reds on Sept. 18. “It’s not like it’s the same players. They’ve changed almost all the players since I’ve been here. They’re a whole different team so I don’t know. Hopefully, they don’t turn the tables and win 17 in a row over me.”
Oswalt will be looking to bounce back from losses in each of his last two starts. He allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings in Houston’s 4-1 defeat against Milwaukee on Friday.
The right-hander has lost three straight starts only twice in his career, most recently from June 30-July 8, 2006.
If the Reds (13-13) are going to turn things around against Oswalt, they might get their best shot against an Astros club that has lost nine of its last 10 games. Houston has been outscored 52-31 in those contests, with 10 of its own runs coming in the lone victory.
The Astros (10-15) managed only five hits in an 11-2 loss in Tuesday’s series opener, the fifth time in 10 games they’ve been held to six hits or fewer.
“We didn’t look very good or play very well,” said Craig Biggio, who went 1-for-3 and scored both of Houston’s runs. “Sometimes it gets uglier before it gets any better. Hopefully tonight will be the worst of it.”
The win was the first for the Reds in three meetings with the Astros this season. Cincinnati has won three straight games overall, batting .360 as a team during the run and outscoring opponents 28-8.
On Tuesday, Adam Dunn went 2-for-4 with a three-run home run, his seventh homer of the year. The Houston native is batting .469 (15-for-32) with 14 runs scored at Minute Maid Park since the beginning of last season.
“We’ve been getting great pitching,” Dunn told the team’s official Web site. “We just haven’t been able to put up the runs. With our team, we’re going to score. It’s just a matter of when. In the last few games, we’ve put up some runs.”
Cincinnati looks to keep the streak alive with Kyle Lohse (1-1, 2.88) on the mound. On Thursday, Lohse gave up five runs in six innings to suffer his first loss of the year in the Reds’ 7-5 defeat at St. Louis.
The right-hander is 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA in three games - two starts - against Houston.