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07/07/10 6:57 PM ET

Ohlendorf poised to bring Pirates finale win

Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf is just trying to stay on a roll. The Astros are hoping history will repeat itself Thursday.

In Ohlendorf's past two starts, the right-hander has tossed 13 straight scoreless innings, punched out 11 batters and given up just seven hits while picking up his first win of the season along the way. In seven career appearances against the Astros, however, the Texas native is 0-5 with a 7.57 ERA.

Pirates manager John Russell believes he knows which version of Ohlendorf will show up.

"His last couple of starts, he's thrown pretty well," Russell said. "He spotted the ball well. His first-pitch strikes were very good. His velocity wasn't as good as the last start [June 27], but his command was very good."

"It's a great start for him. He's continuing to build start after start, kind of like we saw last year. I'm pretty confident he's back on track and he's going to be pretty good for us."

For the Astros, there will be little doubt what they should see from their starter Roy Oswalt.

In 26 career starts against the Pirates, Oswalt has owned the Bucs. The right-hander has posted a career 2.62 ERA with a 1.088 WHIP against Pittsburgh -- Oswalt's best career numbers against any division opponent.

Making the situation more daunting for the Pirates, Oswalt is currently riding a hot streak of his own. He has thrown at least seven innings in 12 of his past 15 starts and has allowed two earned runs or less in 11 of 17 starts this season.

"This is the best I've thrown the ball the first half as far as my mechanics and quality-wise, I guess you'd say," Oswalt said. "I've had some seasons with a better record, but I've probably thrown the ball better this year than in years past."

The Astros will be looking for their second consecutive sweep of the Pirates and third sweep overall this season.

Pirates: Texas homecoming
All three Pirates starters in the series were born in Texas and reside in the Lone Star State during the offseason. ... Brad Lincoln struggled Tuesday, giving up five runs in five innings pitched. Daniel McCutchen followed with a similarly uninspiring performance, giving away four runs in five innings Wednesday night, leaving it to Ohlendorf to take the finale.

Astros: Friendly rivals
Despite an overall 34-51 record, the Astros have actually performed well against National League Central opponents. Houston has posted a 17-12 record versus division foes, the second-best mark in the NL Central. ... The Astros have won 10 consecutive games on Wednesdays. They have also won four out of their last five games played on Thursday.

Worth noting
The Astros are 5-0 against the Pirates this season, the only team Houston has not lost to on its schedule. The Pirates are winless against five different teams this season.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.