(Sports Network) - Veteran right-hander Rot Oswalt makes what could be one of the last starts of his Houston career tonight when the Astros meet the Cincinnati Reds in the middle test of a three-game series at Minute Maid Park.
Oswalt, a Houston fixture since the Astros picked him in the 23rd round of the 1996 draft, has been the subject of rampant trade rumors in recent days, with reported suitors including the St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers.
The two-time 20-game winner and eight-time double-digit winner has slumped to just six wins in 17 decisions with a subpar Houston team this season, but is said to be close to the form that earned him 17 victories as recently as 2008.
He's consistently shown that form in a remarkable career against the Reds, winning 23 times in 25 decisions, while posting a 2.62 earned run average against Cincinnati across 213 innings.
The Reds did hand him a tough-luck loss in their last get-together, touching him for eight hits and three runs in seven innings while winning a 4-2 verdict on April 29 in Cincinnati.
Oswalt is 4-8 in 14 starts since, including a 9-0 loss at Pittsburgh on July 18. His last win came against the Pirates in Houston on July 8, in the form of a one-hitter with eight strikeouts in the Astros' 2-0 triumph.
He is 2-8 in 11 starts this season at Minute Maid Park.
For the Reds, third-year Dominican Johnny Cueto aims for his 10th win in just his 20th start of 2010. The 24-year-old righty was a nine-game winner in 31 starts as a rookie in 2008, then won 11 times in 30 starts last season.
He got to nine wins this season in his last start on July 19, allowing four hits and two runs in six innings of a 7-2 defeat of Washington.
In seven career games against the Astros, however, Cueto is 0-4 with a 5.22 ERA in 39 2/3 innings. Conversely, he's 4-1 on the road this year in 10 outings.
On Friday, Jay Bruce doubled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning to lift the Reds to a 6-4 win.
Joey Votto was 3-for-4 with a home run, walked and scored one of his two runs on Bruce's double. Ryan Hanigan had a two-run single and Bruce ended with two RBI as the Reds bounced back from dropping the final two games of a four-game set with Washington.
Francisco Cordero put the tying run on base in the ninth but stranded a pair by getting Hunter Pence to line out to center to end the game and earn his 27th save. Logan Ondrusek (1-0) picked up his first major-league win for tossing a scoreless inning of relief.
Pence was 4-for-5, hit a game-tying two-run homer in the sixth, scored twice and drove in three for Houston, which was coming off a 3-3 road trip.
Tim Byrdak (1-1) had gone 19 appearances without allowing a run but took the loss after surrendering two on three hits without recording an out.