Kansas City (30-39) at Houston (32-37)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 88° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Wed Jun 24, 2009
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The Houston Astros need Lance Berkman(notes) to get going, especially the way he’s fared in interleague play this year.

The slumping Berkman is expected to be back in the lineup Wednesday night when the Astros and Kansas City Royals continue a three-game set at Minute Maid Park.

Berkman did not start in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to Kansas City (30-39) and ace Zack Greinke(notes) since the slugger arrived late at the ballpark to spend extra time with his wife Cara, who gave birth to the couple’s fourth daughter on Monday. He pinch-hit in the bottom of the ninth inning and singled.

The first baseman should be back in the lineup, but that might not be good news for Houston (32-36) given how he’s performed in interleague play. Berkman is 5 for 35 against the AL this year, and remains in a 3-for-22 slump over his last seven games.

Berkman batted .346 in interleague play over his previous three seasons, including .381 last season - the fourth-best mark by NL hitters.

His woes are part of the reason the Astros are 3-7 in interleague play, including 0-4 at home. Greinke scattered eight hits in eight innings for the Royals on Tuesday, and Houston was 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

Kansas City ended its five-game losing streak as Billy Butler(notes) homered and Miguel Olivo(notes) added an RBI groundout. Butler is 15 for 43 (.349) over his last 11 games.

“I knew it was gone,” said Butler about his seventh homer of the year. “There was no need to watch it.”

The Royals had allowed 53 runs during their slide.

Houston shortstop Miguel Tejada(notes) stayed hot at Minute Maid Park with three hits. Tejada is batting .378 at home to rank third in the majors.

Astros starter Roy Oswalt(notes) (3-4, 4.48 ERA) has alternated wins and losses in his last four outings heading into Wednesday’s matchup. He went the distance and gave up 10 hits Friday in a 5-2 loss at Minnesota.

Oswalt is 5-2 with a 3.39 ERA in 11 career home interleague starts. He was 0-2 with a 4.26 ERA in two outings in 2008.

The right-hander has faced Kansas City just once in his career. He earned the victory in a 6-2 road win on June 18, 2005 by giving up one run over eight innings.

Luke Hochevar(notes) (2-3, 6.61) will get the start for the Royals. He lasted four-plus innings and gave up seven runs in a 12-5 loss to Arizona last Thursday.

Hochevar is 1-2 with an 8.40 ERA on the road this year. The top overall pick in the 2006 draft has never faced the Astros, and is 3-2 with a 4.38 ERA in six career interleague starts.

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Starting Pitchers

L. Hochevar KC vs. R. Oswalt Col
7-13 Record 8-6
6.55 ERA 4.12
106 K 138
46 BB 42
1.49 WHIP 1.24


Wednesday, Jun 24