Reports: Ailing Astros ace Oswalt expects to return Friday

Roy Oswalt is ready to take the hill again.

The Astros pitcher, who has been shelved since June 30 with a strained left hip abductor muscle, said he expects to start Friday against the Washington Nationals, according to multiple media reports.

Oswalt received a pain-killing shot in the sciatic nerve in his lower back, according to the reports. The inflamed nerve was causing discomfort in Oswalt's left hip.

"I've got a disc that's got a little wear on it," Oswalt told MLB.com. "It was making one of my nerves kind of flare up on my side."

Oswalt improved to 7-8 after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers last Monday, but he had to leave the start because of pain in the hip.

Despite beginning the year with more victories (112) than any pitcher since the start of 2001, Oswalt has struggled to a 4.60 ERA, 53 points higher than the average he posted over his first six seasons.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.