Latos looks to win his fourth straight decision and help the Padres bounce back from a tough loss Friday night, while Oswalt, whose name has come up in trade rumors, tries to continue his dominance over San Diego.
After going 4-5 with a 4.62 ERA in 10 starts as a rookie in 2009, the 22-year-old Latos (8-4, 2.85 ERA) is putting together an All-Star caliber season. The right-hander has a 1.89 ERA in 11 starts since the start of May - yielding two runs or fewer 10 times - and his .197 opponents’ batting average on the season is the best in the baseball.
Latos was in line to win his fourth straight start Sunday against Florida, giving up one run, six hits and four walks in 5 2-3 innings, but the bullpen couldn’t protect the lead. The Padres (46-33) still went on to win 4-2, improving to 8-2 in Latos’ last 10 starts.
This stretch began with a commanding performance in a 7-0 win at Houston on May 7, when Latos allowed two hits and struck out a career-best nine in eight innings.
San Diego took two of three in Houston in May, but lost Thursday’s opener 6-3 in 10 innings. The Padres still have a 2 1/2-game lead on second-place Los Angeles in the division.
“Taking it late in the game tied, you like your chances,” manager Bud Black said. “It just didn’t happen.”
Houston’s offense is showing signs of turning things around, plating at least five runs in seven of its last nine contests. The Astros, 13 games back of NL Central-leading Cincinnati, had reached the five-run mark twice in their previous 10 games.
The Padres could have some trouble of their own offensively against Oswalt (5-10, 3.55), who has routinely frustrated San Diego over the course of his 10-year career.
Since debuting with the Astros in 2001, Oswalt has notched 142 career victories - two shy of Joe Niekro’s franchise record. Although Oswalt’s been a staple in Houston’s rotation for years, the right-hander requested a trade from his struggling team earlier this season. Texas Rangers president and Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan has said his team is interested in the three-time All-Star, and Oswalt said last Friday a trade to the Rangers would be OK with him.
Oswalt did little to impress Ryan and company, though, yielding a season-worst eight runs and seven hits in 4 2-3 innings of a 10-1 loss to Texas on Sunday.
Oswalt hopes to bounce back against one of his favorite opponents. He is 10-2 with a 2.82 ERA in 14 starts against the Padres.
In his lone start against San Diego this season, Oswalt allowed three runs and six hits with nine strikeouts in eight innings of a 4-3, 11-inning win May 9.