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Dodgers-Astros Preview 2009-04-22


Dodgers-Astros Preview 2009-04-22
Manny Ramirez is swinging a hot bat, but he and the Los Angeles Dodgers will have to try and start a new winning streak. They'll have to do it against a pitcher that Ramirez has never faced.

Ramirez will go up against Houston Astros ace Roy Oswalt for the first time Wednesday night when the Dodgers try to bounce back after having their eight-game winning streak snapped.

Los Angeles (10-4) fell for the first time since the opening week of the season with an 8-5 loss Tuesday to start this three-game set. The defeat wasn't because of Ramirez, who went 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs.

The Dodgers superstar has four straight multihit efforts, going 8-for-16 with three homers and six RBIs in that span. He is also tied for second in the majors with 15 walks.

Ramirez has never faced the hard-throwing Oswalt (0-2, 4.26 ERA), who is still searching for his first victory. Oswalt lost his first two starts before allowing five hits over six scoreless innings Friday in a 2-1 loss to Cincinnati.

"It was a battle," he told the Astros' official Web site. "I threw some quality pitches when I needed it. I don't know what else you want."

The right-hander is 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA in three home starts versus Los Angeles. He has extensive experience facing Dodgers left fielder Juan Pierre, who is 12-for-34 (.353) against Oswalt.

Houston will see a familiar face in Dodgers starter Randy Wolf (1-1, 3.93), who will face the team he made 12 starts for last year. Wolf was acquired by the Astros on July 22 from San Diego, and went 6-2 with a 3.57 ERA before Houston declined to offer salary arbitration to the free agent.

"I made a lot of friends over there," Wolf told the Dodgers' official Web site. "It'll be fun to go out there and pitch against my old teammates. It was only for two months, but it was a fun two months."

The veteran left-hander is 4-4 with a 3.76 ERA in 11 career starts against the Astros. This will be his first start since Sept. 17, 2006 as a visitor to Minute Maid Park, where he went 4-0 with a 1.71 ERA in five outings last year with Houston.

Wolf has enjoyed plenty of success against Houston slugger Lance Berkman, who is 3-for-20 in his career versus the southpaw.

In his last outing, Wolf gave up three runs over six innings and did not receive a decision in a 4-3 win over Colorado.

While the Dodgers came in with the top batting average in the majors (.302) and an NL-leading 82 runs, the Astros broke out with their highest scoring effort of the season Tuesday. Miguel Tejada drove in three runs and Carlos Lee and Kaz Matsui each added two RBIs.

The Astros got a scare in the ninth inning when the Dodgers' Orlando Hudson hit a hard grounder into closer Jose Valverde's heel. Valverde limped around and took some warmup pitches before finishing the game.

"I'll take a win almost at any cost - almost," Houston manager Cecil Cooper said. "I think he'll be OK. That's a good thing."


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 22, 2009

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