Oswalt strikes out eight, leading Astros past D-backs

HOUSTON (AP) -- Roy Oswalt realized very quickly that the Arizona
Diamondbacks were going to try to beat him by swinging early in
their at-bats on Saturday.

Oswalt responded by throwing strikes they couldn't hit. He
matched a season high with eight strikeouts and dominated Arizona
again to lead the Houston Astros to a 4-1 victory.

"It seemed like the very first inning, they were going to be
aggressive," said Oswalt, who threw 71 strikes in 98 pitches. "I
knew they were going to try to hit the fastball early and that kind
of worked to my advantage."

Oswalt (8-7) allowed six hits without a walk in eight innings,
improving to 5-0 with a 0.95 ERA in five career starts against the
Diamondbacks. He won for just the third time since June 14.

"Roy was masterful," Houston manager Phil Garner said. "He
didn't fool around. He seemed to be ahead (in the count) most of
the day."

Chris Snyder homered for Arizona in the fifth, the first run the
Diamondbacks had scored on Oswalt in 21 innings -- and two years.
Oswalt then retired 10 straight before Eric Byrnes singled with one
out in the eighth.

Brad Lidge pitched a perfect ninth to earn his 23rd save in 27

Oswalt lost consecutive complete games on June 30 and July 5,
but said he was ready to leave Saturday's game when Garner put in

"The last inning, I knew I was grabbing for straws there a
little bit," Oswalt said. "I knew they were going to pinch hit
for me anyway, so get Lidge in there and he did a great job

Lidge gave up two runs in the ninth inning of the Astros' 8-4
loss to Cincinnati on Thursday, rekindling questions about his
psyche after his failures in the playoffs last season.

Lidge needed only 11 pitches to secure the win this time,
striking out Carlos Quentin to end the game.

"I did feel better out there tonight -- what the reason is, I
don't exactly know," he said. "I just felt like I needed to get
out there and stay confident. I just wanted to get out there and
simplify things and fortunately, it worked out."

Craig Biggio homered and Willy Taveras had a two-run triple to
help the Astros win for just the sixth time in 15 games since the
All-Star break. Preston Wilson added an RBI single in the eighth
off Diamondbacks reliever Luis Vizcaino.

Arizona starter Juan Cruz (3-6) matched a career high with eight
strikeouts, but still dropped to 0-3 with two no-decisions since
coming off the disabled list on July 3. He pitched five scoreless
innings after the Astros jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two.

With one out in the first, Biggio hit a 1-0 pitch just inside
the left-field foul pole for his 11th homer of the season and
second in three days.

"Any time you can get a run in the first inning, ask any
starter, it's a nice way to start your day off," Biggio said.

Houston added two more in the second inning after Cruz gave up a
walk to Brad Ausmus -- a .237 hitter -- and a broken-bat single to
Adam Everett. Oswalt advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt
before Taveras lined his fourth triple of the season to the gap in

That was all the offense Oswalt needed.

The Diamondbacks got four hits in the first four innings, but
failed to get a runner past second. Snyder doubled leading off the
third and Oswalt threw him out at third on Cruz's weak bunt in
front of the mound.

"We've had a tough time with him," Arizona manager Bob Melvin
said. "It looked like he was locked in right away."

Snyder snapped Oswalt's scoreless streak by launching a 2-1
pitch off the brick facade in left. Oswalt hadn't allowed a run
against the Diamondbacks since Shea Hillenbrand's two-run homer in
the sixth inning of Houston's 10-3 win on July 22, 2004.

Byrnes grounded out and Oswalt struck out Cruz and Orlando
Hudson to end the fifth.

"It's tough to come in on the losing end of it," Snyder said.
"We battled, but it was hard to scratch together runs."

Cruz, meanwhile, retired eight in a row after hitting Aubrey
Huff with a pitch in the third. Huff snapped the hitless streak in
the sixth with a one-out double off the left-field wall.

Game notes
One night after hitting for the cycle, Astros rookie Luke
Scott went 0-for-2 with a strikeout and two intentional walks. ...
Arizona has hit 25 homers in its last 20 games and has an
extra-base hit in 50 consecutive games.