Oswalt beats Reds again, Astros win 4-1
The Houston ace limited the Reds to five hits in seven innings in the Astros’ 4-1 victory Wednesday night. Hunter Pence and Ty Wigginton hit two-run homers to help Oswalt beat Cincinnati for the 22nd time in 23 decisions.
When Oswalt last saw the Reds in Houston on July 28, they had Ken Griffey, Jr. and Adam Dunn. The new faces made no difference to Oswalt, who struck out three and allowed only four baserunners in his last five innings.
Oswalt (12-9) has won seven straight decisions over Cincinnati since a 5-4 loss at Great American Ball Park on April 28, 2006. He hasn’t lost to the Reds in Houston since 2004.
“I don’t really think about the record going into the games,” Oswalt said. “I just try to remember what I’ve done to them in games past and how I got different guys out, stick with the game plan and execute it until they try to do something else.”
Pence homered off Josh Fogg (2-7), the Cincinnati starter who has dropped his last five decisions overall and his last seven against Houston. Fogg hasn’t won in six starts since he was hit in the mouth by Joey Votto’s line drive during batting practice on July 22. Fogg needed 30 stitches to his upper lip.
Fogg felt like he made only one bad pitch Wednesday night. But when you’re a Cincinnati pitcher facing Oswalt, that’s usually all it takes.
“You know he’s going to pitch a good game and put up a lot of zeros,” Fogg said. “He’s one of the premier pitchers in the league, so I knew I couldn’t make a mistake.”
Wigginton homered in the seventh against Houston native Gary Majewski and has hit eight of his 17 homers this month.
“Roy and two big swings are all we needed tonight,” Houston manager Cecil Cooper said.
The Reds took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a sharp grounder that nicked Oswalt’s pitching hand.
After Jeff Keppinger singled and Brandon Phillips doubled into the right-field corner, Votto hit a hard bouncer back up the middle. The ball smacked Oswalt’s hand and deflected to Miguel Tejada, who threw out Votto as Keppinger scored.
Cooper and trainer Dave Labossiere visited the mound, but Oswalt said he was fine.
For a while, Fogg matched Oswalt pitch for pitch, allowing only Lance Berkman’s leadoff double in the second through three innings.
Tejada and Berkman started the Houston fourth with singles, but Fogg looked like he might get out of it when Geoff Blum struck out and Tejada was thrown out trying to steal third.
Pence then hit a line-drive homer to left, his 19th, to put Houston up 2-1.
Oswalt retired 11 of the next 12 batters after Edwin Encarnacion’s leadoff double in the second. Votto walked in the fourth but Encarnacion grounded into a double play.
Dickerson walked in the sixth, but Oswalt got the next two hitters on groundouts and fanned Votto to wrap up another easy inning. But he was done after 90 pitches and admitted he was tired.
“I don’t know if it was the first inning, going a bunch of pitches right out of the chute,” he said. “I kind of ran down a little bit. I thought maybe I could get through the eighth, but that was pushing it.”
Wigginton immediately gave Oswalt and the Astros some separation.
Majewski relieved Fogg for the Astros’ seventh and after Darin Erstad singled to right, Wigginton drove a 1-0 pitch into the left-field seats to resume his torrid month. Wigginton came into the game batting .369 in August, despite going 3-for-16 in four games in New York.
“Maybe in New York, I went out of the zone for some fastballs,” he said. “But I feel just as good as I did the prior week.”
Hawkins relieved Oswalt for the eighth and allowed only a single to Keppinger. Valverde walked Votto leading off the ninth, then struck out the
The Astros have won seven of Oswalt’s last nine starts. … Berkman leads the NL with 40 doubles. … Wednesday marked Cooper’s one-year anniversary as Houston’s manager. He’s 82-82 since replacing Phil Garner. … Fogg pitched six innings to match his longest start of the season.
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