Oswalt (5-4) had been sidelined since June 11 with a strained right groin but came back in time to face one of his favorite opponents. Retiring the last eight batters he faced, Oswalt improved to 7-0 with a 1.56 ERA in 10 lifetime appearances against Cincinnati.
"They swing early in the count, and that helps me," Oswalt said, trying to explain his success against the Reds. "They love to swing at the first pitch, so I tried to give them a little something off the plate and make them roll it over. I was able to get some outs on just a few pitches, and that helped me stay in the game."
"He gave us six good innings," Astros manager
said. "The farther into the game he went, the more relaxed he seemed about his leg. He didn't throw a lot of pitches. He went strike one on them a lot, and he was getting his breaking ball over."
Oswalt, who has won three straight starts, showed no side effects from the injury.
"I felt great," he said. "I tried to keep my location down. Location right now is more important than velocity, because location is where you get beat. I tried not to do too much the first couple of innings. I felt better as I went along. I wasn't really a power pitcher today. I was more of a finesse pitcher. The velocity will come."
"He wasn't 100 percent, but he was effective," Astros catcher
said. "He's an important part of our team. We need him to win this division."
Bruntlett was inserted into the lineup when starting shortstop
was hit in the head by a batted ball during batting practice. Bruntlett provided a key spark offensively with a two-run homer off Reds starter
(2-6) in the fourth.
"He did a nice job," Williams said. "I told him about 6:30 or so that he was going to start. He got a big hit for us and played a clean game."
"They told me about 45 minutes before the game," Bruntlett said. "I was ready to go out there and had plenty of time to prepare. I knew Adam had gotten hurt so I wasn't sure if he could play."
Williams said Everett might have been able to make a go of it.
"He said he could have started, but he was a little dizzy after getting hit in the head," Williams revealed. "I thought it was best to give him a night off. Hopefully he'll be OK tomorrow."
added his team-leading 16th homer of the season, a solo shot in the seventh inning.
Dempster (2-6) was tagged for six runs and seven hits in four innings.
"He pitched his way into trouble and we didn't help him get out of it," Reds manager
said of his starter. "He made some great pitches. He really competed."
The Reds, who have dropped five straight, actually took a 1-0 lead in the opening inning.
came through with a two-out single to score
was thrown out trying to go first to third on the play, killing the rally.
Dempster cruised through the first two innings and struck out Bruntlett to open the third. But Oswalt walked on four pitches and Dempster came apart.
walked on a 3-2 pitch and
's infield hit loaded the bases.
Dempster got Bagwell to bounce weakly to third base but
bobbled the ball a bit and had no play.
struck out but
delivered a three-run double for a 4-1 lead.
"I was trying to get a good pitch to hit and I got a slider in the middle of the plate," Hidalgo said. "I saw the ball pretty good and hit it hard into the gap."
"He had the bases loaded with two strikes and two outs and hit a breaking ball into the gap," Williams said. "That might have been the biggest at-bat of the game."
Ausmus opened the fourth with a single and Bruntlett made it 6-1 with a line drive to left field.
"I had an idea (when I hit it) but I wasn't sure if it would stay far enough left to get out," Bruntlett said. "I've never been much of a home run hitter, but it feels great to get one. Now I've got that behind me."