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HOUSTON -- The Astros have been holding out hope that Roy Oswalt will be able make his scheduled start on Thursday, but the right-hander was still experiencing discomfort from a strained left oblique muscle on Monday and the Astros ace will likely be skipped in favor of Juan Gutierrez.Oswalt said he would know more about his status after throwing on flat ground prior to Monday night's game against the Washington Nationals. He was injured during Saturday's game at San Diego."I didn't stay out there long enough to really hurt it and when I first felt it in the top of the fourth I backed off and tried to get through two innings," Oswalt said. "Hopefully it's maybe one [missed] start and that's it."Oswalt threw for approximately five minutes but was unavailable for comment before the Houston clubhouse closed before the game.Oswalt is officially day-to-day. Astros manager Phil Garner, however, indicated that he would likely miss his turn and that another pitcher would have to take Oswalt's place against the Nationals on Thursday."Gutierrez is our No. 1 choice," Garner said. Triple-A Round Rock manager Jackie Moore "tells me he's got a little bulldog in him. His won-loss is not what we think it's going to be in the future but his basic numbers are pretty good."Gutierrez was recalled on Aug. 17 from Round Rock, where he was 5-9 with a 3.96 ERA with 101 strikeouts in 24 games (145 1/3 innings).
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