Arizona (54-68) at Houston (59-62)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 77° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Fri Aug 21, 2009
  • TV: FSAZ, FSSW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Houston Astros starting pitchers were in the midst of a dismal stretch before Wandy Rodriguez(notes) helped carry the team to victory.

With ace Roy Oswalt(notes) taking the mound against the Arizona Diamondbacks, another strong outing appears likely.

Oswalt looks to continue his dominance of the struggling Diamondbacks and help the Astros to their third straight win as the clubs open a three-game series Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

Before Thursday, Houston (59-62) had gone a season-high nine games without a quality start. The rotation posted an 8.34 ERA and the Astros went 3-6 in that stretch.

Rodriguez snapped the drought with an excellent performance in the finale of a three-game set against Florida. After giving up a career-high 10 earned runs in his previous start, he held the Marlins to one unearned run and four hits in eight innings of a 4-1 victory.

The Astros likely expect another solid performance on the mound from Oswalt (6-4, 4.01 ERA) on Friday. The right-hander has dominated the Diamondbacks, going 8-1 with a 2.15 ERA in 10 career starts. He’s won each of his six home starts against them with an ERA of 1.00.

Oswalt limited Arizona to one run in seven innings to win 6-4 on the road June 13, helping Houston take two of three in the clubs’ first series of 2009.

Oswalt, however, hasn’t delivered his best work in two starts since missing about two weeks with a back injury. He has no record and a 9.00 ERA in those outings. He gave up five runs in six innings before Houston’s offense rallied late to beat Milwaukee 8-5 on Sunday.

Though his numbers weren’t impressive, Oswalt said after that game he felt fine physically.

“Two pitches cost me four runs,” he said. “Other than that, I felt pretty good. This is the first time since coming off the back injury I actually felt pretty decent.”

Arizona shortstop Stephen Drew(notes) is 7 for 17 (.412) with three doubles against Oswalt. Third baseman Mark Reynolds(notes), who went 7 for 12 with two homers, five doubles and eight RBIs in his first three games against the Astros this season, is 0 for 7 with three strikeouts versus the right-hander.

The Diamondbacks (54-68) could use an offensive lift from Reynolds. They’ve been outscored 43-12 during a five-game losing streak that continued with a 12-3 loss at Philadelphia on Thursday night.

“Today was a tough day, and it was a tough series,” said manager A.J. Hinch, whose club totaled five runs during the three-game sweep. “We got dominated in three straight games.”

Arizona will try to snap its skid with Yusmeiro Petit(notes) (2-7, 6.47) on the mound trying to bounce back from one of his worst outings of the year.

The right-hander, who had posted a 1.50 ERA over his previous three games, was tagged for a season high-tying seven runs in four innings of a 9-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday.

Petit gave up four runs in a terrible relief appearance against the Astros in 2006, but held them to two runs and four hits in seven innings to beat them 11-5 in his lone start against Houston on Aug. 16, 2008.

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Starting Pitchers

Y. Petit SF vs. R. Oswalt Col
3-10 Record 8-6
5.82 ERA 4.12
74 K 138
34 BB 42
1.52 WHIP 1.24

Scoreboard

Friday, Aug 21