Astros 11, Orioles 1

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HOUSTON (AP)—Spending 15 days on the disabled list did more for Roy Oswalt than just allow him to recover.

After striking out a season-high 11 and pitching the Houston Astros to an 11-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, Oswalt reflected on the time he missed because of a groin sprain.

“Being on the DL helped me calm down and not try to throw so hard, and it has helped my mechanics,” Oswalt said after helping the Astros complete a sweep of the Orioles.

It was Oswalt’s second start since returning from the DL on May 31.

“This was as good of stuff as I’ve had. I’m happy because the ball is coming out of my hand right since I came off the DL,” he said.

Oswalt (4-4) pitched seven innings and gave up one run and eight hits.

“It was the same old Roy. I think it helped that they hadn’t seen him before,” Houston catcher Brad Ausmus said. “He has a tough breaking ball all the time, but it’s especially tough when you haven’t seen it before.”

He had certainly earned the respect of Baltimore’s Brian Roberts.

“He has got great stuff,” Roberts said. “We knew we had our work cut out for us.

“You learn as much as you can on the tape, but that is a 12-inch TV screen, it’s not like being out there facing him.”

Brian Hunter drove in four runs with four hits to match his career highs in hits and RBIs. Morgan Ensberg homered and drove in four runs for Houston.

Omar Daal (4-6) fell to 1-8 lifetime against the Astros.

Plate umpire Mike DiMuro left with a bloody face after being hit in the face by a throw from Orioles pitcher Travis Driskill on a squeeze play in the third inning.

DiMuro was taken to a hospital, where he got stitches for a split in his nose and had X-rays that were negative for fractures. The game was delayed for 11 minutes and first-base umpire Andy Fletcher took over behind the plate.

Houston took a 3-0 lead in the first inning after Craig Biggio led off with a double and scored on a single by Morgan Ensberg. After a walk to Jeff Bagwell, Jeff Kent and Hunter hit RBI singles.

The Astros increased their lead to 4-0 in the second on an RBI single by Ensberg.

Baltimore cut the Houston lead to 4-1 in third on a run-scoring single by Brian Roberts, but Houston moved ahead 6-1 in the third when Brad Ausmus hit a sacrifice fly and Hunter scored on squeeze play by Adam Everett—the play on which DiMuro was injured.

The Astros added a run in the fourth and two more in the sixth beforeEnsberg hit his ninth homer, a two-run shot, in the seventh.

Notes

Biggio left the game with a bruised left calf after being hit by a Willis Roberts pitch in the fifth inning. … Kent left the game in the fifth with a sore right quad. … Houston’s Lance Berkman extended his hitting streak to 12 games. … Melvin Mora extended his hitting streak to 17 games forBaltimore. … It was the ninth four-hit game of Hunter’s career.

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