A sudden power surge has the Houston Astros in position for
their first series sweep in almost two months.
The Astros can do so by continuing their recent success over the
visiting Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.
Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman each homered for the second
straight game as Houston (34-51) hit a season-high four home runs
in a 6-3 win over Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
The Astros rank near the bottom of the majors with 54 home runs,
but have gone deep six times in the first two games of this
“They always say (home runs) come in bunches, so we’ll take
’em,” said Berkman, who has a chance to homer in four straight
games for the first time since July 29-Aug. 2, 2007. “We’ve had a
dearth of them to this point in the season. Any time you can get
four or five home runs in a game, we’ll take it.”
Houston is 5-0 versus Pittsburgh (30-54) this season and has won
21 of 26 over the Pirates, who had won five of seven coming into
the series. The Astros last series sweep came at St. Louis from May
Lee is 6 for 16 with two homers against the Pirates this
After scoring 12 runs in the first two games of this set,
Houston looks to give ace Roy Oswalt (5-10, 3.32 ERA) some
well-deserved support when he takes the ball in the finale.
Though the right-hander has not won since June 16, he allowed
three hits and struck out seven in seven innings of a 3-0 loss at
San Diego on Friday. The 2.76 average runs of support the Astros
supply Oswalt is among the lowest in the majors.
“I haven’t seen (Oswalt) that good in a while,” Padres
outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. told the Astros’ official website.
Houston gave its ace just enough support in a 4-3 win over
Pittsburgh on April 23. Oswalt allowed three runs and four hits in
seven innings of that contest to improve to 14-7 with a 2.64 ERA in
26 starts against the Pirates.
Garrett Jones, 2 for 3 with a homer lifetime against Oswalt, had
three hits Wednesday for Pittsburgh. Teammate Ryan Doumit is 8 for
15 against Houston this season after going 3 for 3 with an RBI.
The Pirates hope Ross Ohlendorf (1-6, 4.39) can build on his
first win of the season while trying for his first victory against
The right-hander was 0-8 in his previous 16 starts before he
allowed five hits and struck out eight in seven innings of a 2-0
win over Philadelphia on Friday. Ohlendorf has allowed seven hits
and no earned runs over 13 innings in his last two starts.
“The last two (starts), I continued to make good pitches,”
Ohlendorf said. “That’s the big difference.”
A native of Austin, Texas, Ohlendorf is 0-5 with a 7.82 ERA as a
starter against Houston.