Houston (70-88) at Cincinnati (71-87)

  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Thu Sep 27, 2007
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It’s been well over a year since Wandy Rodriguez has won consecutive road games.

The Houston left-hander looks to change that and match a career high for wins in a season as the Astros try for their first three-game road series sweep in a year against the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night.

Rodriguez (9-13, 4.66 ERA) is one of the majors’ worst pitchers on the road, going 3-10 with a 6.69 ERA in 15 starts away from Minute Maid Park, but will look to win his second straight on the road for the first time since May 2006 and post 10 wins for the second time in three years.

Rodriguez, who’s 6-3 with a 2.94 ERA at home, allowed one run and seven hits in eight innings of an 18-1 rout of St. Louis last Thursday at Busch Stadium for his second win in his last three road starts.

“He showed me he’s a quality big league pitcher,” Houston interim manager Cecil Cooper told the Astros’ official Web site. “He was very smooth.”

The Astros look to record their first three-game road series sweep since doing it at Pittsburgh from Sept. 26-28, 2006.

Houston (70-88), which is an NL-worst 30-50 away from home, hit four homers in a 7-6 win over the Reds on Wednesday.

Lance Berkman went 4-for-5 with two homers and four RBIs, while Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence combined for five hits and two homers for the Astros, who close out the season at home against Atlanta starting Friday.

Berkman has hit 41 career homers against the Reds, more than he’s hit against any other team. He’s also hit 17 at Great American Ballpark - the most from any opposing player.

“When you have success at a ballpark, there’s just something about it,” said Berkman, who also reached 100 RBIs for the second straight season and fifth time in his career. “It’s one of those things where, when you have success at a place, you start feeling favorable towards it.”

Berkman is batting .538 (7-for-13) in his last three games and .365 (19-for-52) with six homers and 18 RBIs in 14 games against Cincinnati this season. He is 3-for-9 with a homer against Matt Belisle, who will start for the Reds.

Belisle (8-9, 5.43) allowed four earned runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings, but didn’t factor in a 9-8, 11-inning loss at San Francisco on Friday.

The right-hander is 1-2 with a 1.83 ERA in three starts against the Astros. He is 1-1 with a 0.61 ERA in two starts versus them in 2007.

The Reds (71-87) look to avoid a fifth straight loss and being swept for the first time in a three-game series at home this season.

Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips hit his 30th homer Wednesday to join Alfonso Soriano as the only second basemen to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases in a season.

“I feel like I lost five pounds,” said Phillips, who has four homers in 13 games against Houston in 2007. “The monkey’s off my back. It hasn’t really settled in yet. It’s amazing.”

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Starting Pitchers

W. Rodríguez HOU vs. M. Belisle WAS
9-13 Record 8-9
4.58 ERA 5.32
158 K 125
62 BB 43
1.32 WHIP 1.44


Thursday, Sep 27