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News » Astros-Cardinals Preview 2008-05-29

Astros-Cardinals Preview 2008-05-29

Astros-Cardinals Preview 2008-05-29
It's been nearly three years since Houston Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt failed to deliver a quality start against the St. Louis Cardinals. The way things are going for the right-hander lately, however, that streak could be in jeopardy.

Off to the worst start of his eight-year career, Oswalt looks to begin rebounding on Thursday night when he takes the mound at Busch Stadium in the finale of a three-game series between the NL Central rivals.

Oswalt has been one of baseball's best starters since his 2001 rookie season, leading the majors with 116 wins since his big-league debut and ranking near the top with a 3.19 ERA in that stretch.

But Oswalt (4-4, 5.61 ERA) hasn't looked at all like a dominant pitcher in 2008. His ERA is more than two points higher than his previous career high of 3.49, and he ranks in the NL's top two for the most runs (45), hits (85) and home runs (15) allowed.

"I haven't been comfortable all year," Oswalt said after getting tagged for five runs and 11 hits in six innings as Houston (30-24) lost 7-5 to Philadelphia last Thursday. "I've had some quality starts, but I haven't gotten in that zone where I feel like I can throw a seven- or eight-inning shutout. Every inning feels like a battle."

That hasn't been the case in his career against St. Louis (31-23). Including the postseason, Oswalt is 11-5 with a 2.91 ERA in 28 career games against the Cardinals. He's 7-0 with a 1.56 ERA in 12 outings against them - all quality starts - since Sept. 27, 2005.

To reclaim that form, Oswalt says he's just going to keep things simple.

"A lot of people put in their two cents," he told the Astros' official Web site. "But you know your body and you know what you can do when you get on the mound. It's just overcoming the mental part of it."

The Astros are hoping for a vintage Oswalt performance against St. Louis as they try to pull back into a second-place tie in the division. Houston caught up with the Cardinals with a victory in the series opener, but fell one game back with a 6-1 defeat on Wednesday night.

Starter Adam Wainwright continued his dominance of Houston for eight innings as St. Louis won for the seventh time in 10 games.

"We just played well," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told the team's official Web site. "But I guarantee you we got a little extra juice because of the way our starter pitched."

With Wainwright controlling the game, the Astros managed only one run and four hits. It was their worst offensive performance since they had four hits in a 5-1 loss to the Cardinals on April 27. Kyle Lohse (4-2, 4.26) pitched six strong innings in that game, and he'll look for a repeat performance on Thursday.

The right-hander held the Los Angeles Dodgers to six hits in six innings of a 4-0 win on Saturday - his first victory since the win over Houston.

Lohse is 2-4 with a 3.51 ERA in six career games against the Astros. Houston outfielder Carlos Lee is a career .370 hitter with three home runs and six doubles against Lohse.

St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols, meanwhile, is batting .299 with three homers and five doubles against Oswalt.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 29, 2008

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