After being ejected from his last outing, the right-hander tries to continue his recent success against the struggling Cubs and help the Houston Astros to a season-high fifth straight victory Saturday night.
Among the major league leaders in losses, Oswalt (3-7, 2.78 ERA) was tossed in the third inning of a 14-4 defeat to Washington on Monday.
Oswalt, who gave up a season-high four runs in 2 1-3 innings, lost his cool after missing the strike zone on a pitch. While Oswalt said he was chastising himself by mumbling something, home plate umpire Bill Hohn thought it was directed at him, yelled back and eventually threw out Oswalt.
The event added to Oswalt’s frustrating season. The 2.52 runs per game his teammates have given him is among the lowest averages in the majors, and he said he would agree to a trade if the Astros (21-34) continue to struggle.
Still, the veteran has taken a professional approach into each start.
“You try not to look at the wins and losses and you try to put your team in a position to win,” Oswalt told the Astros’ official website. “You never know what you’re going to get when you get out there.”
Houston hasn’t struggled of late, winning four in a row after a 3-1 victory Friday while handing Chicago (24-30) a season high-tying fourth consecutive loss.
Oswalt is 13-12 with a 3.72 ERA in 30 starts against the Cubs, including 2-0 with a 1.15 ERA in his last three. He allowed five hits in seven scoreless innings of a 4-3 win at Chicago on April 17.
Berkman has been a big reason for the team’s current surge, going 9 for 18 with eight RBIs in his last four games to raise his average from .227 to .260. He’s 12 for 30 in his last nine against the Cubs, who turn to Ryan Dempster(notes) (3-5, 3.72) to help end their skid.
Dempster looks to bounce back from his worst outing of the season after he allowed six runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 9-1 loss to St. Louis on Sunday.
“That’s a lack of execution,” said Dempster, 1-5 with a 4.35 ERA in his last seven starts.
The right-hander is 4-9 with a 4.74 ERA in 19 starts versus Houston, including a 3.16 ERA with no decisions in the last four.
“I know these guys are trying, but we see the same thing every day, day in and day out,” said manager Lou Piniella, whose team is 3-23 when scoring three runs or less.
Batting .158, Ramirez is 2 for 28 in his last eight games. He’s a lifetime .229 hitter against Oswalt.