Ailing Astros look for series victory

Ailing Astros look for series victory

HOUSTON -- The Astros will count on right-hander Brian Moehler on Wednesday afternoon to try to win the three-game series with San Francisco and stay in the National League Central race.

Houston trails St. Louis and the Chicago Cubs by five games each.

It's the health of the Astros that is just as big a concern.

When their two best pitchers, Roy Oswalt and left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, will be able to start again is unclear while both recover from injuries.

First baseman Lance Berkman could technically come off the disabled list Friday, but doesn't appear to be ready.

Key reliever LaTroy Hawkins is on the DL with shingles and said only rest will help.

Manager Cecil Cooper is counting on his veterans in the clubhouse to keep the team on course. The Astros slipped a game under .500 again with Tuesday's loss.

"We've got real good, veteran people, good character," Cooper said of his team. "Every time we need something, we always bounce back."

Pitching matchup
HOU: RHP Brian Moehler (7-6, 4.99 ERA)
Moehler pitched well in his previous start Friday in St. Louis, a game the Astros lost when the bullpen allowed two runs in the eighth. Moehler went 6 2/3 innings and gave up seven hits and two runs, including a homer to Mark DeRosa. That was his seventh quality start in his past nine outings, lowering his ERA to 4.99. He's 1-1 with an 8.88 ERA in six career games against the Giants.

SF: RHP Joe Martinez (1-0, 6.75)
Martinez was named the Giants starter for the club's series finale with the Houston Astros, becoming the team's seventh starter of the season. He makes his return to the big leagues for the first time since being placed on the disabled list on April 10 after taking a line drive off the head against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 9, leaving him with a concussion and three hairline fractures. The 26-year-old rookie right-hander was scheduled to start Monday for Fresno, but he was scratched and the Grizzlies made it a bullpen game. He has never faced the Astros and will be making his first Major League start.

Cooper was asked if he would like to see right-hander Felipe Paulino get another start with the Astros, regardless of the health of Oswalt and Rodriguez, or be sent back to Triple-A Round Rock. Cooper said a decision on that would probably be made Wednesday or Friday. ... Oswalt threw on flat ground before Tuesday's game and is expected to throw a bullpen session Friday. But when he can start again is still to be determined. ... Outfielder Darin Erstad, rehabbing a strained left hamstring at Double-A Corpus Christi, went 1-for-4 with a double in five innings Tuesday night at San Antonio. He is scheduled to start again Wednesday for Corpus Christi, then be re-evaluated. ... Hunter Pence collected his 20th infield hit of the season Tuesday night.

 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• KTRH 740, KLAT 1010 (Español)

Up next
• Thursday: Off-day
• Friday: Astros (Bud Norris, 1-0, 0.90) vs. Brewers (Carlos Villanueva, 2-8, 5.98), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Saturday: Astros (Mike Hampton, 7-8, 5.14) vs. Brewers (Manny Parra, 6-8, 6.33), 6:05 p.m. CT

Gene Duffey is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.