<
>

Oswalt allows only one run in six innings

7/8/2003

HOUSTON (AP) -- Roy Oswalt didn't start a no-hitter this time. He
just remained unbeaten against Cincinnati.

Oswalt shut down the Reds, and Richard Hidalgo backed him with a
three-run double as the Houston Astros won 7-1 Monday night.

Oswalt allowed one run and three hits in six innings. He had
pitched only one inning in his previous outing before the groin
acted up for the second time this season.

In that game against the Yankees, five relievers followed and
combined on the first six-pitcher no-hitter in major league
history. It also was the first no-hitter against the Yankees since
1958 and the first against them at Yankee Stadium since 1952.

Against the Reds, Oswalt (5-4) improved to 7-0 with a 1.56 ERA
in 10 starts against Cincinnati. He said he didn't know what the
numbers were and didn't want anyone to tell him.

"If I'm unbeaten against them, hopefully I'll stay that way,"
he said. "I know they have a good lineup. They have the type of
lineup that likes to swing early. For me, that helps out because if
I can throw a couple of good pitches and get some of them, I have
to throw less pitches."

Because he was making his first start since going on the
disabled list June 12 with a strained right groin, Oswalt was
scheduled to go only five innings. He went six because he had a low
pitch count and ended up throwing only 74 pitches, 50 for strikes.

Oswalt said Houston manager Jimy Williams and his coaches
worried about him during the first two innings.

"They could tell I wasn't throwing for my normal velocity,"
Oswalt said. "I told them I was just working on location. I wasn't
trying to throw it that hard."

It was good enough to beat the Reds.

"The farther he got into the game, the more comfortable and
relaxed he looked," Williams said. "I think he settled in more
each inning."

Teammates were glad to see Oswalt return. He struck out just
three, a sign that he wasn't totally sharp.

"I've been watching him working hard while he's been on the
DL," Geoff Blum said. "I know he's not back to the level he wants
to be at, but it's a credit to how good a pitcher he is that he did
so well. He used his defense, and he normally doesn't have to do
that that much."

The Reds were impressed.

"He pitched well," Barry Larkin said. "Obviously he's not 100
percent. He threw some things up there close to his normal self.
But he pitched very well."

Houston stopped a three-game losing streak and sent the Reds to
their fifth straight loss, matching their season high. Cincinnati
was held to four hits by Oswalt, Ricky Stone and Billy Wagner.

Ryan Dempster (2-6), making his second career start on three
days' rest, gave up six runs and seven hits in four innings. He
also lost on short rest to San Francisco on May 4.

All-Star Aaron Boone put the Reds ahead with an RBI single in
the first, but Houston took a 4-1 lead in the third when Jeff
Bagwell singled home a run and Hidalgo followed with a double to
left-center.

Houston's Eric Bruntlett hit his first major league homer in the
fourth, a two-run drive. Bruntlett played because shortstop Adam
Everett sustained a mild concussion when hit by a grounder during
warmups.

Morgan Ensberg hit his team-high 16th homer for a 7-1 lead in
the seventh against Todd Van Poppel. The previous batter, Hidalgo,
was robbed by center fielder Ken Griffey Jr., who made an
over-the-shoulder catch a step before running into the wall in deep
center.

Game notes
Everett is day to day. ... Griffey made a throwing error in
the third, increasing the Reds major league-leading total to 83. A
bobble by 1B Sean Casey initially was called an error by the
official scorer, who later changed his call to a hit. ... Russell
Branyan was thrown out by Hidalgo from right field when he tried to
stretch a single into a double in the eighth. Hidalgo has 10
assists, three behind San Francisco's Jose Cruz Jr., the NL leader.