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Astros-Rays Preview 2008-06-21


Astros-Rays Preview 2008-06-21
One victory - interleague or otherwise - has been hard to come by for the Houston Astros of late. It's been almost a month since they won two in a row.

After cooling off Tampa Bay to snap their longest losing streak of the season, the Astros look to accomplish that feat when they continue their road series with the Rays on Saturday night.

Houston (34-40) beat Tampa Bay 4-3 in Friday's opener to end their eight-game losing streak and win for just the fifth time in 23 contests.

"We have not been playing as good as we can," manager Cecil Cooper told the Astros' official Web site. "We'll continue to play hard."

The Astros, 2-8 versus AL teams in 2008, will try to win consecutive game for the first time since May 23-24 against Philadelphia. They haven't won a series since taking two of three from the Chicago Cubs from May 19-21.

Roy Oswalt went 7 2-3 innings, Carlos Lee had a two-run double and Lance Berkman added an RBI for the Astros, who improved to 4-0 against Tampa Bay (43-30), which was coming off a three-game sweep of the NL Central-leading Cubs.

Though he failed to get a hit, Berkman is 7-for-18 with three RBIs in his last five games and hitting .364 on the season. Lee, meanwhile, has 38 RBIs in his last 42 games for Houston, which was outscored 57-28 during its recent skid.

Houston turns to Wandy Rodriguez (2-3, 2.76 ERA) as he tries to avoid a third straight loss when he takes the ball on Saturday. After not allowing an earned run in his previous start, Rodriguez gave up five and six hits in five innings of an 8-4 loss to the New York Yankees last Saturday.

The left-hander will be making his first appearance against Tampa Bay.

On Friday, Dioner Navarro homered, while Eric Hinske drove in two runs and Carl Crawford added two hits for the Rays, who lost for just the second time in seven games.

"We were ready, but it didn't go our way," Navarro said.

Crawford, who hit a grand slam in an 8-3 win over the Cubs on Thursday, is 7-for-16 in his last four games, while Hinske is batting .364 with eight RBIs in his last six contests.

Edwin Jackson (4-6, 4.46) is scheduled to start for the Rays in what could be his last appearance until June 28 as he could drop his appeal of a five-game suspension stemming from a bench-clearing brawl with Boston on June 5.

The right-hander allowed six runs and five hits in five innings of a 9-3 loss to Florida on Sunday and is 2-6 in his last 12 starts since starting 2-0.

"We just have to get him back to where he had been early on and just making better quality pitches," Rays manager Joe Maddon told the team's official Web site.

Jackson is 2-0 with a 4.35 ERA in two starts against Houston, both coming while with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004 and 2005.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: June 21, 2008

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