Oswalt regains command in victory
Righty allows one run in first win; Bourn hits go-ahead homer
PHILADELPHIA -- Two factors almost always add up to a victory for Roy Oswalt -- a nasty curveball and pitching against the Phillies.
Chalk that formula up to resulting in yet another win.
Oswalt left the Phillies bewildered with an array of breaking balls coupled with his patented fastball as the Astros held on for a 2-1 victory before a crowd of 31,644 Wednesday at Citzens Bank Park.
Oswalt picked up his first win of the season (1-3) and defeated the Phillies for the sixth consecutive time, the longest individual streak against Philadelphia since Tom Glavine won six in a row for the Braves from July 4, 1990, to June 1, 1992. Jose Rijo of the Reds also had a six-game streak against the Phillies from April 30, 1990 to May 24, 1992.
Oswalt's streak began on Aug. 17, 2004.
When his curveball was biting sharply in the first inning, he realized it was going to be a good night.
"After the first inning, I knew it wasn't popping out of my hand like my last start," Oswalt said. "I had a real good line of delivery on it and felt real good."
This was the second straight game the Astros got a stellar outing from their starter following up the eight shutout innings tossed by Shawn Chacon on Tuesday, albeit in a 4-3 loss, because the Phillies rallied for four in the bottom of the ninth off closer Jose Valverde.
"Roy was, for me, vintage Roy today," manager Cecil Cooper said. "He kept the ball down when he had to. He hit his spots real good. He had a nice breaking ball. He didn't have a breaking ball in his last three outings this year. Tonight he had it. I thought his fastball was real crisp. I thought he did a real good job. He was impressive, especially late in the game. He was kind of like one of those racehorses where late in the game, you could smell it. I thought he reached back a few times and pitched well."
Wesley Wright struck out the side in the eighth by fanning Pedro Feliz, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Doug Brocail then tossed a scoreless ninth and recorded his first save since Aug. 29, 2005, when the Rangers defeated the White Sox.
"It felt no different," Brocail said. "It was a day off for our closer. He's our guy. There's no story here."
Brocail has been terrific this season, posting a stingy 1.17 ERA in eight appearances this season. He has allowed one earned run in 7 2/3 innings.
"That shows he's still got it," Cooper said. "He's a cagey veteran. He's been pitching very well for us this season. We have a lot of confidence in him to come out and make pitches."
Cooper made sure to stress that Valverde is still the No. 1 option as the team's closer.
"He's my guy," Cooper said. "He'll be available [Thursday]."
The Astros quickly jumped out to a 1-0 lead in their first at-bat when Carlos Lee hit an RBI double, scoring Michael Bourn.
After the Phillies tied the game at 1 in the bottom of the first, the Astros went ahead, 2-1, in the fifth on Bourn's two-out solo homer into the netting of the right field foul pole. It was Bourn's second home run this season.
"It was a great pitch by [Kyle Kendrick]," Bourn said. "I just happened to get my hands inside it."
"He's got some pop," Cooper added of Bourn. "He surprised me in the spring. I think he hit one, maybe two, in Spring Training. He really put a charge into a couple of them. He got a couple last night and a couple [Wednesday]. It was good to see."
Bourn jammed his ankle early in the game, but stayed in there and was 2-for-4, upping his average to .236.
"I'm pretty sure I'll try and play [Thursday]," Bourn said.
Andy Jasner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.