Every game ends the same way -- the Astros celebrate, the Reds commiserate.
Jason Lane homered twice, driving in a career-high five runs, and Oswalt improved to 13-0 against the Reds with an 11-2 victory Friday night, the Astros' biggest offensive output of the season.
Houston won its 12th straight game against Cincinnati, a streak that began last July 31 and has been helped mightily by Oswalt (2-1), who regularly stumps the Reds' free-swinging lineup.
The Reds have been outscored 91-34 during those dozen games that defy explanation.
"I have never understood it," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "I don't know why. I just enjoy it. We've played well against them lately."
No one plays better than Oswalt, who can get off his sick bed and beat the Reds.
Oswalt gave up five hits in seven innings, joining Pedro Martinez as the only pitchers in the majors to go 13-0 against an opponent. Martinez has won all of his decisions against Seattle.
"I don't really think about that when I go out there," said Oswalt, who has a 2.52 career ERA against Cincinnati. "I'll see it in the newspapers."
Lane hit a two-run homer and a three-run shot off Paul Wilson (0-1). The Astros scored more than five runs for the first time this season, a welcome outburst for a pitcher who spent the week trying to get healthy.
Oswalt also beat the Reds 5-2 last Sunday in Houston, going seven innings to complete a three-game sweep. He then came down with a virus but wasn't about to let it cost him another chance to face the Reds.
"The day before yesterday, they sent me home," Oswalt said. "I felt pretty bad."
With a scowl of concentration and a thick growth of stubble on his face, Oswalt had his way with a lineup that he regularly turns into lightweights. Ken Griffey Jr. was 0-for-3, leaving him 2-for-19 career off the right-hander. Adam Dunn struck out twice. Even Sean Casey came up hitless, falling to .163 career off Oswalt.
Austin Kearns had the Reds' only hit through the first five innings, a single. Cincinnati's hits didn't come until the game was lopsided -- Casey had a sacrifice fly in the sixth and Rich Aurilia doubled home a run in the seventh that made it 9-2.
"He's taken years off my life -- not days, years," Dunn said. "He throws every pitch the same. He's got great control. He'll throw a 95 mph fastball one pitch, the next one's a 69 mph curve. He's just good."
Wilson held the Astros without a hit until the fourth, when
Craig Biggio led off with a walk. Two outs later, Lane hit a 426-foot homer into the upper deck in left field. Two innings later, he hit a three-run shot that came to rest in the lower deck in left field and finished off Wilson.
"I was terrible," Wilson said. "I made a mistake to the same guy twice."
Lane has never hit more than four homers in a season -- he had that many in 107 games last year. Four of his 15 career homers and all three this season have come against Cincinnati.
The Astros scored only seven runs while getting swept in a three-game series in New York, where cool temperatures prevented the ball from carrying. It flew easily -- for the Astros, anyway -- on a 68-degree evening in Cincinnati.
"In New York, we had a tough time scoring," Lane said. "I had a few chances with men on base and didn't do it. It was nice to drive them in today.
"As bad as we did in New York, a few of our balls got knocked down by the cold. Today was a much more pleasant day," he said.
Biggio also doubled and scored in the sixth. He has hit safely in all nine games this season and is one hit shy of Ted Williams' mark of 2,652 career hits, 64th all-time.
Morgan Ensberg had three of the Astros' 14 hits and drove in three runs, including a two-run double in the eighth.
Houston is 27-11 overall against Cincinnati since the start of the 2003 season. ... Wilson committed the Reds' first error of the season, bouncing his throw to first on Jeff Bagwell's grounder in the first inning. The Reds' eight-game streak of perfection was the third-longest in major-league history. The 1983 Pirates and
2004 Rockies went their first nine games without an error. ... Lane's three hits matched his career high. His other multihomer game was Sept. 23, 2003, against the Giants.