The Houston Astros ace will try to continue his dominance of the Reds on Monday night when the teams open a three-game series at Minute Maid Park.
Oswalt (7-8, 4.56 ERA) has been on the disabled list since July 19 with a left hip adductor strain. The injury forced the three-time All-Star out of his last start on July 11 after allowing one hit on 17 pitches in one inning of a 10-0 loss at Washington.
The right-hander was 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 21 2-3 innings in four starts prior to getting hurt. He was activated Monday after throwing 25 to 30 pitches before Friday’s 3-1 win at Milwaukee.
“I felt no pain,” said Oswalt, who will be limited to 90 pitches Monday. “It went pretty well. I’m ready to get back out there. Hopefully, go out there Monday and get in a groove early and (be) able to go deep in the ball game.”
Oswalt is looking to help the Astros (48-56) build on Sunday’s 11-6 win over Milwaukee, as he makes his first start of the season against Cincinnati (50-56).
The eight-year veteran is 19-1 with a 2.46 ERA in 24 games - 22 starts - versus the Reds, his most wins against any opponent. He’s 9-0 with a 2.26 ERA in 12 appearances - 11 starts - versus Cincinnati at home.
The Astros have won the last six matchups with Reds, sweeping a two-game road set from April 23-24.
The Reds, losers of five of their last seven, are coming off a disappointing sweep to Colorado, during which they were outscored 23-3 while batting .165 with one homer.
“We’ve got to regroup,” said Reds left fielder Adam Dunn, who went 3-for-12 against the Rockies. “It’s definitely shocking any time we don’t score runs. It’s shocking to me.”
While his team is struggling at the plate, Reds right fielder Ken Griffey Jr. is on a 10-game hitting streak for the first time since a 15-game run from Aug. 14-30, 2005.
The future Hall of Famer is 12-for-35 (.343) with four doubles, two homers and six RBIs during his current run, and he’s 9-for-23 (.391) with two homers and five RBIs in his last six games at Houston. However, he’s only 7-for-33 (.212) against Oswalt.
The Reds hope Johnny Cueto (7-9, 4.90) can help them beat Oswalt for the first time since April 28, 2006.
Cueto, though, is 0-1 with a 6.50 ERA over his last three starts despite totaling 22 strikeouts in 18 innings.
The 22-year-old rookie right-hander was better Tuesday, allowing three runs and four hits with 10 strikeouts while throwing a season-high 120 pitches in six innings of a 4-3, 11-inning win over San Diego.
Cueto didn’t fare well in his only start against Houston on April 24, giving up five runs and eight hits in seven innings of a 5-3 loss.