The Houston Astros have allowed 53 runs in their last four games, but thanks to one of their pitchers, they avoided coming into their next series with four straight losses.
The Astros (47-61) open a three-game series with the Florida Marlins at Dolphin Stadium on Friday night after a thrilling extra-inning win the night before.
Houston avoided a three-game sweep by the Atlanta Braves on Thursday with a 12-11 win in 14 innings. Pitcher Jason Jennings had a pinch-hit, two-out RBI single in the 14th to snap the team’s three-game losing streak.
“He’s a good hitter. He swings the bat good,” said manager Phil Garner. “It was good for him and certainly good for us.”
The Astros’ pitching staff has allowed 10 or more runs in each of the last four games. The starters have a 7.97 ERA in the last 10 games, and the bullpen hasn’t fared much better with a 6.02 ERA.
Houston used seven pitchers Thursday, and will hope for a lengthy outing from staff ace Roy Oswalt (10-6, 3.63 ERA) in order to rest its weary bullpen.
The veteran right-hander pitched seven innings last Saturday against the San Diego Padres, allowing one unearned run and three hits in seven innings of a 3-1 win.
Oswalt, who is looking to win three straight starts for the third time this season, had skipped his previous start because of soreness in his upper chest.
“I felt my chest in the bullpen and it didn’t feel great, but it didn’t feel real painful,” he said. “It started to feel better and better as the game went on and as long as I have good mechanics, it doesn’t really bother me.”
Oswalt is 4-2 with a 1.92 ERA in eight starts against the Marlins (50-59). He beat them on April 17 and allowed one run and six hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-1 win.
Florida will counter with Dontrelle Willis (7-10, 4.95), who has lost a career-high seven straight decisions.
The left-hander hasn’t won since May 29 against the Chicago Cubs. Since then, he has a 5.09 ERA over 11 starts.
“Yeah, that’s tough,” Willis said. “It stinks that our team is struggling. I always can deal with it better when the team is winning and we’re shaking hands. When the team is struggling collectively, you definitely want to take it on your shoulders.”
Willis, however, is coming off one of his best starts during that stretch. He allowed two runs - one earned - and seven hits in seven innings of a 4-3 win over the San Francisco Giants on Saturday.
Willis is 3-1 with a 2.36 ERA in six starts against the Astros.
The Marlins have lost eight of their last 10 games, including two of three against the Colorado Rockies. Florida lost Thursday’s finale 4-3 after giving up two runs in the eighth inning. The Marlins stranded nine runners and struck out 12 times.
“We had some opportunities to add on,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We just didn’t do it.”
Florida fell to 24-31 at home this season, tied with Kansas City for the worst mark in the majors.