Dodgers ready for renewed rivalry

Dodgers ready for renewed rivalry

HOUSTON -- The Dodgers and Astros felt almost like strangers when they renewed acquaintances on Thursday to open a four-game series at Minute Maid Park.

The teams haven't played since the Dodgers won two games from Houston in May at Los Angeles. The Dodgers hadn't played in Houston since April 2009.

"It's like Interleague [Play]," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said of facing the Astros. "It's like playing an American League team. You don't see them for a long, long time. It's just weird, especially coming in and playing in September."

Houston unloaded two of its three biggest starts, right-hander Roy Oswalt and first baseman Lance Berkman, since the last time it faced the Dodgers.

"They have a whole new cast of characters since the last time we saw them, as we do for them," Torre said. "They're playing very well. [Hunter] Pence looks like he's coming into his own, and Carlos [Lee] keeps hitting, like he does."