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Astros of Houston vs. Marlins of Florida @ 7:05

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 Starting Pitchers











 R. Oswalt




 D. Willis









































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Yahoo! Sports Game Preview:

Dontrelle Willis has been almost perfect this season.


Willis will try and become the first seven-game winner in the major leagues as he takes the mound for Florida Marlins in the deciding game of their series with the Houston Astros at Dolphins Stadium.


Willis leads the major leagues with an ERA of 1.07, has won his first six starts in dominating fashion, and leads all of baseball with three complete games, including shutouts in his first two starts.


``He has been almost perfect,'' teammate Mike Lowell says.


``When you come to your job for two years,'' Willis says, ``you start to know exactly what you need to do.''


Those first two years have been a study in contrast.


In 2003, Willis went 14-6 with a 3.30 ERA, helping spark the Marlins' improbable surge to the World Series title. He made the All-Star team and won the NL rookie of the year award.


Last year he faded after an impressive April (3-0, 2.73 ERA) and finished 10-11 with a 4.02 ERA, prompting speculation hitters had adjusted to his deceptive delivery.


However, his body of work thus far this season, suggests that 2004 may be the exception.


When Willis struggled in the past, it was because he fell behind hitters. This season he's getting ahead in the count, and has walked only eight in 42 innings while striking out 35.


``He throws a lot of strikes,'' teammate Miguel Cabrera says. ``He goes after hitters. He's going to win a lot of games.''


The Astros are struggling as they face the pitcher with the best numbers in baseball, falling to 2-15 on the road after dropping a 6-2 decision on Tuesday at Florida.


Overall they've lost seven of eight, a trend Roy Oswalt will hope to reverse.


Oswalt is coming off his worst start of the season, as he allowed nine runs and 10 hits in just five innings on Friday in a 9-4 loss at Atlanta.


Houston will be without Jeff Bagwell for the next few weeks. Bagwell went on the disabled list Tuesday for the first time in seven seasons, an ominous setback in his battle with a degenerative shoulder condition.


Bagwell, who turns 37 this month, missed just 12 games over the past three seasons despite arthritis in his right shoulder. But playing has become too painful, the Houston Astros' first baseman said.


``My arm has shut down a little bit,'' he said. ``I just don't have the arm strength to get the ball to the infielders during warmups or get the bat head to the ball.''


The move was made retroactive to May 4, meaning Bagwell will be eligible to come off the disabled list May 19. The four-time All-Star said he hopes to rejoin the lineup then, but the Astros aren't counting on it.


``We'll see if a period of shutdown will help,'' general manager Tim Purpura said. ``There's no guarantee that this is going to make a significant difference.''

Stat of the Day:

Alex Gonzalez vs. Roy Oswalt (Career):

3H 1HR 2RBI .429BA (7AB)

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