for this game

Oswalt, Astros continue surge with rout of Pirates

Sep 12, 2008 - 4:37 AM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Even though there is much ground yet to cover in the National League wild card race, the Houston Astros' amazing second-half run could make the playoff chase very interesting over the final two-plus weeks of the season.

Roy Oswalt tossed a three-hitter and the Astros continued their incredible play since the All-Star break with a 6-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.

After a loss on August 26 to Cincinnati, Houston (80-67) fell 11 games behind Milwaukee (83-64) in the wild card race.

Since that setback, the Astros have chopped eight games off the Brewers' lead by winning 14 of their next 15 contests. They are 13 games over .500 for the first time since finishing the 2005 season with a 89-73 mark.

Houston's late push, during which it is a major league-best 36-16 since the All-Star break, is all the more unlikely considering the Astros have been without cleanup hitter Carlos Lee since August 9 because of a fractured left finger.

In recent days, Houston has also had to prepare for Hurricane Ike, which is expected to strike the city this weekend and has already caused the postponement of several college and professional games, including the first two scheduled games of the Astros' three-game weekend series against the Chicago Cubs.

Although south Texas has more pressing concerns, Oswalt did his part to give the sparse Minute Maid Park crowd something else to think about other than swirling winds as he needed just 90 pitches and recorded 19 groundball outs to record his fourth straight win in a game that lasted only two hours and nine minutes.

"I was trying to make it as quick as possible so I could get home," Oswalt said jokingly. "Somebody said there was a hurricane on the way, so I was trying to be as quick as possible."

"Maybe it gave them something to forget about their troubles," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said. "It's good for the city, and it's good for everybody. I even forgot about things that were surrounding us and watched Roy work. It was pretty special."

After surrendering a hit to the second batter of the game, Oswalt toyed with the Pirates until the eighth when Doug Mientkiewicz ended a stretch in which the righthander recorded 21 straight outs. Rookie Luis Cruz also singled in the ninth, but all three Pirates' hits were followed by inning-ending double plays one batter later.

"He threw a great game," Pirates manager John Russell said. "He just basically dominated the whole game."

Much of the credit for Houston's late success can be given to Oswalt (15-9), who continued his second-half resurgence in this game, following a one-hit shutout in Colorado in his last outing with Thursday's four-strikeout performance.

"He actually wasn't as good today," Houston catcher Brad Ausmus said. "He was good, but he wasn't as good as his last start. He was jumping out a little bit. Not a lot, but enough. He didn't have quite the command of his fastball, but still, Roy was still 95 percent of his best, which is better than 99 percent of the league."

The three-time All-Star, who is 8-1 with a 1.94 ERA since the break, faced the minimum 27 hitters and extended his scoreless streak to 32 1/3 innings.

"I don't know how to describe it," Cooper said. "Last time, it was magnificent. Tonight, just awesome. Roy was sensational."

The scoreless innings streak broke the Astros' team mark of 31 set by J.R. Richard, who did so from May 26 - June 11, 1980.

Fortune smiled on Houston in the third inning as it scored a run without the benefit of hitting the ball out of the infield.

Reggie Abercrombie opened the inning with a bunt and took third when Zach Duke threw wildly to first in his attempt to retire the runner. Two batters later, Oswalt drove in Abercrombie on a suicide squeeze play.

"It's a do-or-die thing," said Duke of the rush to beat Abercrombie with the throw. "I wish I had released it just a little bit earlier. I take a lot of pride in my fielding and that one hurts. That was kind of the turning point in the game."

The Astros finally got to Duke (5-14) in the fifth, scoring five times off the lefthander as each of the first five batters reached base to begin the inning, highlighted by RBI singles from Abercrombie and Oswalt. Darin Erstad and Mark Loretta each drove in a run apiece before Miguel Tejada completed the outburst with a run-scoring double.








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    PITTSBURGH 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 3
    HOUSTON 0 0 1 0 5 0 0 0 x 6 7 0 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: PIT - ZACH DUKE, MARINO SALAS (5TH), CRAIG HANSEN (6TH), JESSE
    CHAVEZ (7TH) AND RYAN DOUMIT
    HOU - ROY OSWALT AND BRAD AUSMUS

    HOME RUNS: PIT - NONE
    HOU - NONE

    Sep 11 10:14 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY MARK LORETTA SCORED BRAD AUSMUS.
    SITUATION: 4 RUNS IN, R OSWALT ON THIRD, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 0
    HOUSTON 5 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: M TEJADA (.286, 0-FOR-2)

    Pirates 0, Astros 5  Bot 5, 0 OutsSep 11 9:13 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    GROUND OUT BY DARIN ERSTAD SCORED REGGIE ABERCROMBIE.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, R OSWALT ON SECOND, B AUSMUS ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 0
    HOUSTON 4 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: M LORETTA (.275, 0-FOR-2)

    Pirates 0, Astros 4  Bot 5, 0 OutsSep 11 9:10 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY REGGIE ABERCROMBIE SCORED HUNTER PENCE.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, R ABERCROMBIE ON FIRST, J CASTILLO ON
    SECOND, 0 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 0
    HOUSTON 2 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: B AUSMUS (.217, 0-FOR-1)

    Pirates 0, Astros 2  Bot 5, 0 OutsSep 11 9:06 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE BY ROY OSWALT SCORED REGGIE ABERCROMBIE.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, NONE ON, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 0
    HOUSTON 1 BOTTOM, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: D ERSTAD (.288, 0-FOR-1)

    Pirates 0, Astros 1  Bot 3, 0 OutsSep 11 8:40 PM
  • 5
    roots
    aqualung1 Added 5 roots

    Pirates vs. AstrosApr 2 4:36 AM