Oswalt On Fire

The Los Angeles Dodgers have had enough problems scoring runs the last two weeks. It won't get any easier against Roy Oswalt and the Houston Astros on Monday.

The Dodgers try to snap out of their recent offensive slump when they meet Oswalt and the Astros in the opener of the three-game series.


Los Angeles (60-57) returns home following a 2-4 road trip. The Dodgers closed the stretch with a 12-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, continuing their hitting woes.

Los Angeles has lost eight of its last 10 and has scored more than two runs in just two of those games. The Dodgers' slump has dropped them into fourth place in the NL West after they led the division as recently as July 30.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Los Angeles -109 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 7.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 50% of bets for this game have been placed on Los Angeles -109 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Manager Grady Little, who made minor changes over the weekend to the lineup, said more may be coming.

"We're just trying to shake it up to get these guys going, because right now there are too many people in our lineup who are underachieving," Little said. "Something needs to be done, because this isn't good enough."

Second baseman Jeff Kent is mired in a 1-for-19 slump while shortstop Rafael Furcal is 4-for-29 over his last seven games.

Los Angeles will be trying to snap Oswalt's four-game winning streak for Houston (52-65).

Oswalt (12-6, 3.42 ERA) has a 0.72 ERA during his four-game stretch, and is coming off another solid performance against the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday. He allowed just six hits in six scoreless innings in an 8-2 win.

The right-hander is seeking his 111th career victory, which would move him into third place on the Astros' all-time list ahead of Mike Scott.

Oswalt is 3-3 with a 4.70 ERA in five starts and one relief appearance against the Dodgers. This will be his first time facing them since 2005.

Los Angeles will counter with Chad Billingsley (7-3, 3.34), who has been victimized by the team's lack of hitting.

Billingsley has lost his last three starts, although he's allowed just one run in each of his last two games. He gave up six hits and walked four in five innings of a 1-0 loss at Cincinnati on Wednesday.

The Dodgers have provided the right-hander with just one run of support in his last three starts.

Billingsley's only start against Houston was on July 23. He pitched his lone career complete game, allowing five hits and striking out six in a 10-2 victory.

Los Angeles hopes he can repeat that lengthy start after Mark Hendrickson lasted just 2 2-3 innings in his outing Sunday. The Dodgers were forced to use four relievers, although Hendrickson was charged with the loss after allowing eight runs and 11 hits.

Houston avoided a three-game sweep with a 6-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday. Craig Biggio, who was honored before the game for his 3,000-plus hits, homered in the fifth inning and Lance Berkman homered in the eighth to break a 2-2 tie and spark a four-run inning.

"It was a must-win game for us," manager Phil Garner said. "You never know about our club. We may turn it around now and go play good on the road and come back and still be in the middle of it."

The Astros, who are in fourth place in the NL Central, have won four of their last six games. They have the worst road record in the NL at 20-38.

The Dodgers have won 16 of their last 25 home games against Houston since 2000. They lost two of three in Houston in late July.

by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us

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