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Oswalt, Astros go for much-needed sweep

Sep 28, 2006 - 12:53 PM Houston (80-78) at Pittsburgh (65-93) 12:35 pm EDT

PITTSBURGH (Ticker) - With Roy Oswalt on the mound, the Houston Astros have been an unbeatable force.

The Astros go for their ninth straight win and a three-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.

Oswalt (14-8, 3.07 ERA) has won five consecutive decisions and, more importantly, Houston has won seven in a row and 11 of its last 12 when the righthander pitches. He allowed three runs and nine hits in seven innings but did not figure in a 7-4 victory over St. Louis last Saturday.

Oswalt is 2-0 with a stingy 1.38 ERA in as many starts this year vs. the Pirates.

Following a 7-4 win in Tuesday's opener, the Astros rallied for a 7-6 triumph in 15 innings in the middle contest Wednesday. Luke Scott knocked in the tying run in the ninth and Brad Ausmus lofted the game-winning sacrifice fly.

Lance Berkman belted his 44th homer for Houston, which remained 1 1/2 games back of St. Louis for first in the National League Central Division.

Pittsburgh will try to avoid the sweep and end a six-game slide behind rookie Tom Gorzelanny (2-4, 3.79). The lefthander was reached for three runs and five hits in five frames of a 6-2 setback to San Diego last Friday.

Gorzelanny is 0-2 lifetime in as many starts with a 6.10 ERA against the Astros, including a 5-2 loss on August 10.

Ryan Doumit hit his sixth home run and Xavier Nady drove in two runs Wednesday for the Pirates, who squandered a 6-1 lead.

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