Oswalt looks to earn his fourth straight win against the Reds on Monday night in the opener of a four-game series between the NL Central rivals at the Great American Ball Park.
Before last April, Oswalt (4-2, 3.06 ERA) was 15-0 against the Cincinnati (14-17), the longest streak without a loss for one pitcher against one team in major league history. He lost to the Reds on April 28, 2006, but has won three straight outings since to improve to 18-1 with a 2.46 ERA in 21 starts and two relief appearances against them.
The right-hander beat Cincinnati in his last start, allowing one run and four hits in eight innings as Houston (13-17) won 3-1 on Wednesday night.
“He’s just amazing,” Cincinnati’s Scott Hatteberg said of Oswalt. “I really love him as a fan.”
The Astros have won four of five games against the Reds after going 5-10 in last season’s series. Oswalt helped Houston take the final two games of a three-game set against Cincinnati last week.
Houston will be trying to bounce back after losing two of three games in a weekend series with St. Louis. The Astros lost the finale 3-1 on Sunday after scoring a season-high 13 runs to beat the Cardinals the previous day.
“We scored one run,” Astros manager Phil Garner said after his team struggled against former reliever Braden Looper. “I think that was more us than him.”
Houston left fielder Carlos Lee remained hot, however, collecting three hits to improve to 8-for-14 in his last four games. He has 25 RBIs in his last 22 games, and is 6-for-8 in his last two games against the Reds.
Lee and the Astros’ lineup will be facing Kyle Lohse (1-2, 3.12 ERA) for the second time in a week. Lohse was on the losing end of Wednesday’s matchup with Oswalt, giving up three runs and eight hits in six innings.
The right-hander is 1-3 with a 4.05 ERA in three starts and a relief appearance against Houston.
Lohse has allowed three runs or less in four of his six starts, but Cincinnati has only given him 11 runs of support.
The Reds snapped a season-high four-game losing streak with a 9-3 win over Colorado on Sunday in the finale of a three-game series.
Josh Hamilton completed a sensational series for Cincinnati with a pair of homers. The NL rookie of the month for April had two singles, a double, a triple, a stolen base and a diving catch in the Reds’ 9-7 loss to the Rockies on Saturday night.
“Josh is very, very talented,” Reds manager Jerry Narron told the team’s Web site. “I’m amazed by him every day. Every time he steps up there, he’s capable of hitting it out of the park.”
Hamilton went 0-for-3 against Oswalt in last week’s loss.
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