The postseason is almost officially out of reach for the Houston Astros, but they still have a shot to finish with a winning record.
Oswalt will try to resume his career-long dominance of the Reds as the teams continue their three-game series Tuesday night.
Oswalt (8-6, 4.03 ERA) is an incredible 23-1 with a 2.46 ERA in his career against Cincinnati, and has won eight straight decisions over the Reds since suffering the loss to them April 28, 2006. However, he has no decisions despite a 2.37 ERA in three starts against Cincinnati this season, with the Astros losing two of those matchups.
The right-hander, who needs two wins to reach 10 for the ninth straight season, is expected to face Cincinnati twice in his final four starts. Oswalt will be trying to rebound from his rough outing last Thursday against Atlanta. He have up six runs and 10 hits - both tying season highs - in two innings of a 9-7 defeat.
Oswalt said the performance had nothing to do with lingering back problems, but manager Cecil Cooper admitted his starter is “definitely not 100 percent.”
“I’m thinking that (Thursday night) he probably just didn’t want to admit that he was hurting a little bit,” Cooper told Houston’s official Web site.
Seeking their 12th winning season in 14 years, the Astros (70-74) held a one-run lead for much of Monday night’s opener, but the Reds (65-79) rallied for a 3-1 victory. In his return from the disabled list, Jay Bruce(notes) hit a two-run, pinch-hit single in the seventh, and Brandon Phillips(notes) followed with a solo home run an inning later.
“That was a lot of fun. It was pretty exciting to be out that long and come back and help the team win,” said Bruce, who broke his wrist July 11.
Houston fell to 3-8 in the season series, including 1-4 at Great American Ball Park.
The Reds, meanwhile, have won five in a row at home but only two of their last eight overall.
Kip Wells(notes) (1-4, 5.21) will make his fifth start since moving into the rotation. The Cincinnati right-hander suffered his first loss as a starter in 2009 on Thursday, when he gave up five runs in five innings of a 5-1 defeat at Colorado.
Wells is 4-9 with a 5.34 ERA in 19 appearances against Houston, including 17 starts.