The Houston Astros appear to have the right pitcher on the mound as they try to end their second seven-game losing streak of the season.
Houston (21-28) has fallen a season-worst seven games below .500 after a 5-4 loss on Saturday. The Astros have also matched their longest losing streak of the year, a seven-game skid from April 21-27.
“We played a good game,” Houston manager Phil Garner said, “but right now we could use a sloppy game and a win.”
The Astros have been outscored 58-12 during their slide.
Oswalt (6-3, 3.04 ERA) is 6-0 with a 1.98 ERA in seven career starts against Arizona - the only NL club which has never defeated him. The Astros ace has already beaten the Diamondbacks once this year, allowing three runs over six innings in a 10-4 victory May 12.
The right-hander had won three straight decisions before allowing four runs and nine hits over seven innings in a 4-2 loss to San Francisco on Tuesday.
Oswalt is 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA in four road starts this year.
Arizona (28-23) has never swept a four-game set from Houston, although this is only the third series of that length between these teams. The Diamondbacks have swept two three-game series against the Astros, with the most recent coming June 23-25, 2003.
Eric Byrnes doubled in two runs and Chris Snyder scored twice Saturday for Arizona, which had only seven hits after collecting 29 in the first two games of the series. Rookie third baseman Mark Reynolds, who homered twice and went 5-for-5 on Friday, was 0-for-2 with two walks as his average fell to .436.
“Right now we’re just trying to ride it out,” Snyder said, “and get as many of these wins as we can.”
The Astros, meanwhile, have stranded 21 baserunners in this series as slugger Lance Berkman continues to struggle. Berkman is hitting .160 (8-for-50) with no homers and four RBIs over his last 14 games, and he’s 3-for-21 (.143) in six games against Arizona this year.
Berkman has had some success in his career against Diamondbacks starter Livan Hernandez (4-2, 3.66), going 9-for-26 (.346) with two homers.
Hernandez was on the losing end against Oswalt on May 12, when he was tagged for season highs of eight runs and 11 hits over a season-low four innings. He fell to 1-2 with a 7.77 ERA over his last four starts versus the Astros.
The veteran right-hander has recovered since that loss to go 1-0 with a 1.20 ERA in his last two outings - both against Colorado. He struck out a season-high eight batters and allowed one run over eight innings Tuesday, but did not receive a decision in a 3-1 defeat.