The season is only three weeks old, but already, Geoff Geary has as many losses as he did over the entire 2008 season.

Three losses, all absorbed during the recent 10-game homestand against the Reds, Dodgers and Brewers, also matches his career high.

Clearly, times are tough for Geary, one of the Astros' more consistent relievers a year ago, and one who figures to be a key part of this year's bullpen as well. His struggles so far have been somewhat baffling to him and to his pitching coach, but considering Geary had major surgery in October, the reasons for his sub par performances may not be that big of a mystery.

Yes, Geary was fully healed and ready when Spring Training began, but that doesn't mean the surgery -- which involved repairing both the hip abductor and an abdominal tear -- didn't take a toll on the slightly built right-hander.

Physically, Geary feels fine. His velocity is slowly climbing back to normal levels, and he hasn't felt thwarted by command issues. He senses the problem is timing, and he also acknowledged that the surgery has probably made him a little tentative in the early-going.

"In the back of my mind, maybe I was being a little overprotective of the area," he said. "But I'm OK."

Geary spends most of his time in the video room, comparing footage of him pitching in previous years to now and "trying to understand what the cause of this is." Whereas last year he couldn't rely on generating power from his leg as much as his arm, this year, post-surgery, he was able to go back to using his legs more. But now he senses he's dragging his arm, which is messing with his timing.

"I'll be honest with you," he said. "I'm so frustrated when I come out of games, it's like, 'What do I need to over analyze now?'

"The fact of the matter is, I just need to keep my timing, be relaxed, be calm and allow it to happen, rather than forcing it to happen. When you force something on the mound, your arm drags behind and everything's up."

Despite the unfavorable results, Geary feels he's taken a "huge stride" from the Pirates series two weeks ago to now.

"It's just going to improve," he said. "I can't worry about what I've already done, which is make a fool of myself out there."

Being able to put pressure on his back [right] leg is something Geary has had to relearn, and he also needs to trust that the leg will hold up. He's sore in his groin, which is actually a good sign, because it likely means he's not being quite so tentative to test that area.

"I'm striding, getting further out, and using it," Geary said.

Pitching coach Dewey Robinson seems encouraged by Geary's progression, despite the outcome of the three games he's lost.

"The two things I look for is how their stuff is," Robinson said. "The velocity, the sharpness of their breaking ball, the movement on their fastball -- that's No. 1. No. 2 is their command. If those two are in sync, you're usually going to get pretty good results. To start off the season, his stuff wasn't quite as good as it was last year and his command was a little off. But as we've gone into the season, his stuff has gotten better, and his command's getting better."

But it goes without saying that Geary would like to see that progress translate into better results on the mound.

"It's hard because I can't play, 'Let's try to fix it,' like you do in Spring Training," he said. "It's, 'We need it now.' I've been adding a little too much pressure on myself. From here on out, I'm throwing the ball where I want to. I felt good [Saturday] night. I'm just going to go forward with that.

"Give me the baseball, I'll throw the ball every darned day."

Pitching matchup
HOU: RHP Roy Oswalt (0-2, 4.68 ERA)
Oswalt is still looking for his first win, and, based on history, there's no better team for him to be facing in his next outing. Oswalt is very good against Cincinnati -- he's 23-1 over 29 career games, including 27 starts. He has a 2.39 career ERA vs. the Reds. He last faced them on April 17, taking a no-decision after throwing six scoreless innings.

CIN: RHP Johnny Cueto (1-1, 2.55 ERA)
Cueto pitched a fantastic game Wednesday, working seven scoreless innings for a 3-0 Reds win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. He allowed four hits -- all singles -- and struck out two. Most importantly, he did not walk a batter. Cueto avoided his penchant for nibbling around the plate and falling into deep counts. Throwing 108 pitches, he was aggressive with his fastball and worked ahead. In his previous matchup vs. Houston and Oswalt on April 17, Cueto lasted only 4 2/3 innings and gave up two hits but had six walks. Both starters got a no-decision when the Reds won, 2-1, with a ninth-inning homer.

Tidbits
Michael Bourn was 1-for-3 Sunday to extend his hitting streak to seven games. In those seven games, Bourn has hit .333 [9-for-27] with three stolen bases. ... Pudge Rodriguez hit his 297th career home run Sunday.

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Up next
• Tuesday: Astros (Wandy Rodriguez, 1-2, 1.80) at Reds (Aaron Harang, 2-2, 2.00), 6:10 p.m. CT
• Wednesday: Astros (Felipe Paulino, 0-1, 3.00) at Reds (Edinson Volquez, 2-2, 6.20), 6:10 p.m. CT
• Thursday: Off-day