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Wells tries to master Astros

Wells tries to continue mastery of Astros

The young Pittsburgh Pirates hitters will once again be put to the test Wednesday night at PNC Park against the Houston Astros.

After scoring six runs against Roger Clemens on Monday and knocking Andy Pettitte out of the game Tuesday with one out in the sixth inning, it doesn't get any easier for the young Bucs in the third game of the four-game series. The NL Wild Card leaders will send Roy Oswalt to the hill.

Oswalt's .672 winning percentage (80-39) ranks third among active pitchers with at least 100 career decisions. However, the All-Star has not fared well away from Minute Maid Park this season. Despite a solid 3.45 ERA, Oswalt has dropped 10 of his 16 decisions on the road this season.

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Houston native Kip Wells will make his 31st start of the season and fourth against his hometown team. Wells, who has lost 12 of his last 14 decisions, tossed seven shutout innings against the Astros on August 13 at Minute Maid Park in his most impressive performance of the second half. Wells also threw seven scoreless innings against the Astros at PNC Park on April 27 -- the right-hander's only win in his last 13 starts against NL Central opponents.

The two teams have split their 14 games in 2005.

Pitching matchup
HOU: RHP Roy Oswalt
• 17-12, 2.89 ERA in 2005
• 0-1, 3.86 ERA vs. PIT in 2005

PIT: RHP Kip Wells
• 7-16, 4.92 ERA in 2005
• 1-0, 1.35 ERA vs. HOU in 2005

Player to watch
Jason Bay is 5-for-12 with a double and two RBIs lifetime against Oswalt.

Quotable
"It's great to say that we've played well. But winning is the most important. " -- Pirates interim manager Pete Mackanin

On the Internet
MLB.TV
Gameday Audio
• Gameday
• Official game notes

On television
• HOU: FSSW, ESPN
• PIT: FSNP, ESPN

On radio
• HOU: KTRH 740, KLAT (Español)
• PIT: KDKA 1020

Quick hits
The Pirates have used 137 different lineups in 151 games. They used 116 lineups in all of 2004. ... Tom Gorzelanny on Tuesday became the sixth left-hander to start a game for the Pirates this season. No other big-league club has used more than four southpaw starting pitchers. ... The Pirates are 7-6 against Houston this season. The Bucs have not posted a winning season against the Astros since going 7-5 in 1999.

On deck
• Thursday: vs. Houston, 12:35 p.m. ET
• Friday: at Los Angeles, 10:40 p.m. ET
• Saturday: at Los Angeles: 10:10 p.m. ET

Ed Eagle is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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