(Sports Network) - Carlos Lee's bat has helped the Houston Astros get off to a good start on their road trip. A bounce-back effort from ace Roy Oswalt in a stadium he has excelled at in his career could keep the good momentum going.
Oswalt will try to avoid his first career loss at Coors Field this afternoon, when Houston wraps its four-game series with the Colorado Rockies.
The Astros' 10-game trip didn't get off to a great start after Monday's 5-1 setback, but Lee has helped Houston turn the tables. He hit a go-ahead run- scoring single with two outs in the eighth inning of Tuesday's 4-3 victory, then blasted a grand slam in the 10th frame of last night's 6-2 triumph to extend his hitting streak to 10 games.
"I knew I got it real good and knew the ball was going out," said Lee, who is hitting .286 with two homers and six RBI in five games versus the Rockies this year. "That wasn't a situation where I was trying to do that. I was just trying to put a good swing on it."
The right-handed slugger is batting .325 (13-for-40) with four homers and 13 RBI over his hit streak . He is also batting .328 over his last 14 games to up his season average from .192 to .227.
The Astros' Felipe Paulino hurled eight innings for a third straight start, but got the no-decision despite allowing just two runs. Houston would love a similar outing today from Oswalt, who has lost two straight starts and six of his last eight decisions but can pitch the Astros to their eighth win in 10 games.
Houston's ace is coming off a setback on Saturday, when he allowed season highs of six runs and nine hits to the Cubs over seven innings of an 8-5 setback. The 32-year-old has allowed 10 runs over his last two starts after yielding just nine in his previous five, and has fallen to 3-8 with a 3.22 earned run average on the season.
"It's bound to happen. In 35 starts, you're going to have some bad ones," Oswalt said. "It doesn't matter if you lose 1-0 or 6-0, you still lose."
A trip to Coors Field might do the trick for the right-hander, who is 3-0 with a 2.17 ERA in four career starts there. He is also 2-1 with a 0.82 ERA in three road starts this season.
Oswalt lost to the Rockies at home on May 20, allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits and three walks over six innings, his first setback to Colorado since 2006. His career mark against the club stands at 7-2 with a 1.88 ERA in 11 starts.
He'll face a Colorado offense that has been held to three runs or less in six of its last eight games and is just 9-for-57 with runners in scoring position over its last nine contests.
Brad Hawpe had three hits for the Rockies last night and starter Aaron Cook allowed two runs over seven innings, but Matt Belisle served up Lee's grand slam as his club lost for the fifth time in seven games.
"Unfortunately we got ourselves into a little bit of a mess in the top of the 10th," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy.
Jhoulys Chacin makes his first career start versus the Astros this afternoon and is aiming to halt a two-start slide.
The 22-year-old, who has also lost four of his last five starts, pitched at least seven innings and didn't allow a run in his first two assignments of the year, but he hasn't pitched past the sixth inning in any of his last five outings. That includes Saturday's loss to the Diamondbacks in which he gave up four runs -- three earned -- on six hits over 5 2/3 frames with a career-high nine strikeouts.
The right-handed Chacin is 3-4 with a 3.77 earned run average this season, but just 1-2 with a 6.23 ERA in four appearances at home.
Houston has won eight of the last 11 meetings between the teams and six of its last eight at Coors Field.