HOUSTON — Healthy again, Roy Oswalt got right back to beating the Cincinnati Reds.
Oswalt came off the disabled list and struck out five in the Houston Astros' 5-4 win over the Reds on Monday night.
Oswalt (8-8) won his fifth straight start against Cincinnati and improved to 20-1 in 25 career outings against them, despite giving up a grand slam to Adam Dunn. The Houston ace threw 74 pitches in his first start since aggravating a left hip injury on July 11. He went on the DL on July 19.
He was hoping to throw 80-85 pitches, but felt fatigued by the end of the fifth. ”There wasn't a whole lot of sense to go out there and maybe face one batter and come out,“ Oswalt said. ”We decided the fifth inning was enough.“
”He's back. That brings a smile to my face,“ said Houston Manager Cecil Cooper.
Geoff Blum hit his third homer in two days and Jose Valverde pitched a perfect ninth to earn his 27th save. The Astros' bullpen allowed one hit in four scoreless innings as Houston beat Cincinnati for the seventh straight time.
Johnny Cueto (7-10) gave up five runs and eight hits for the Reds, who've lost four in a row and six of their last eight.
The Astros took a 2-0 lead before Cueto recorded his first out.
Kaz Matsui led off with a double and scored on Miguel Tejada's single up the middle. After Lance Berkman walked, Carlos Lee blooped an RBI single to center.
Blum lined out to center and Berkman tagged up from third to make it 3-0. Cueto threw 33 pitches in the first inning.
”We knew with Oswalt coming off the disabled list, he would be on a limited pitch count,“ Cincinnati Manager Dusty Baker said. ”We got two runners on in the second, he struck out the side and I got a headache.“
Oswalt was surprised how well he located his pitches after the long layoff. Of his 74 pitches, 54 were strikes.
”I thought I'd be kind of all over the strike zone,“ he said. ”I had good command of the curveball and the fastball.“
Jay Bruce beat out an infield single to start the Reds' third. Ken Griffey Jr. singled and Phillips walked to load the bases for Dunn, who came in hitting .324 since the All-Star break.
Dunn hammered the first pitch off the center-field wall, above the yellow line for a home run. The 426-foot shot was Dunn's ninth career grand slam and his second in less than a week.