Oswalt will try for his third win in five starts at Wrigley Field when the Astros continue a three-game series there Saturday.
Houston avoided its ninth straight loss to open this season with Thursday’s 5-1 victory over St. Louis, but a 7-2 loss in Friday’s series opener matched the club’s worst 10-game start in 27 years.
Leading 2-1, the Astros (1-9) gave up six runs in the seventh inning to tie its 1983 squad, which bottomed out at 1-10 before rallying to for a 85-77 finish, good for third in the NL West.
This year’s team could earn its second win a little earlier if Oswalt (0-2, 3.75 ERA) can repeat his recent success in Chicago.
The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA in his last four starts at Wrigley, and a strained lower back in one of those outings cost him the chance for another win July 28.
He exited after 1 2-3 innings of an 11-6 victory, but could use some better run support in this outing.
The Astros are batting .217 and have scored 21 runs this season. They’ve given Oswalt one run of support in his 12 innings but had to battle Cy Young Award winners Tim Lincecum(notes) and Roy Halladay(notes) in his two starts.
Against Halladay and Philadelphia on Sunday, he allowed two runs and five hits over six innings while striking out eight.
The Cubs (5-5), meanwhile, have at least 10 hits in four straight games since opening with a major league-worst .197 average. They’ve also outscored opponents 29-21 over that span after getting outscored 30-18.
Derrek Lee(notes) drove in some of those runs Friday with his second homer in as many games - a three-run shot in the seventh - but it was set up by Ryan Theriot’s(notes) bunt single with the bases loaded.
“It’s good baseball,” manager Lou Piniella told the team’s Web site. “Usually that will score a run and get you runners on second and third. This time, it got us a base hit, a sacrifice fly and then the three-run homer.”
Tom Gorzelanny(notes) (0-0, 0.00) could have used that backing in his season debut. In a 3-1 loss Sunday in Cincinnati, the left-hander did not get a decision despite allowing an unearned run and four hits over 6 1-3 innings.
Gorzelanny should have plenty of motivation in this outing as he and Carlos Silva(notes) are trying to stay in the rotation after Ted Lilly’s(notes) expected return from left shoulder surgery next weekend. Silva has put on some pressure with a 1-0 record and a 0.69 ERA in two starts, including Friday’s win.
Gorzelanny, however, is 1-4 with a 4.55 ERA in six career starts against the Astros but hasn’t started against them since Sept. 10, 2008.
Oswalt was 1-1 with a 3.32 last season against the Cubs and is 12-12 with a 3.86 ERA in 29 career starts. In his previous outing against Chicago, he helped the Astros to their only victory in the last six games at Wrigley by allowing two runs and six hits over seven innings Aug. 31.
The Cubs have won 14 of 20 overall against Houston.