“We’ve been doing this for 3 1/2 weeks,” said Craig Biggio, who hit a solo homer Thursday. “We know what’s at stake. We got out of a hole tonight and took care of business. Now we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
The Astros lost four straight games, the last of which, a 10-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday, knocked them out of first for the first time since Sept. 8.
However, with two straight wins, they were in second place for just two days.
“This is exactly where we want to be, in control of our destiny,” said Morgan Ensberg, who hit two homers Thursday. “We don’t have to depend on anybody.”
The Cubs finish their season with a three-game series at home against Pittsburgh. If the Astros are tied with Chicago at the end of the season, the teams will play a one-game playoff Monday at Wrigley Field.
Richie Sexson homered Thursday for the Brewers, who have lost three straight and six of seven.
Houston will send Jeriome Robertson to the mound Friday.
Robertson’s three-game winning streak was snapped in his last outing, as he gave up five earned runs and five hits in 4 1-3 innings of Sunday’s 6-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The left-hander, whose 15 wins are a team rookie record, walked four batters—three of whom scored.
“I was leaving the ball up and away, up and away, up and away,” Robertson said. “That’s the last thing you want to do, is walk guys when you’re ahead in the ballgame like that. It’s frustrating. You want to keep the ball down in the zone and get the ground ball. It didn’t work out today.”
STANDINGS: Brewers - 6th place, 20 GB, NL Central. Astros - 1st place (tied), NL Central.
BREWERS PROBABLE STARTER: Wayne Franklin (10-13, 5.34 ERA). Franklin gave up eight runs—three earned—and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings of Saturday’s 10-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was his third straight defeat and seventh in 10 decisions. He is 2-1 with a 3.96 ERA in five career appearances, including four starts, against the Astros.
ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Robertson (15-8, 5.00 ERA). Robertson is 2-0 with a 3.10 ERA in seven career appearances, including three starts, against the Brewers.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Brewers - Scott Podsednik, .312 avg., 97 runs and 43 SBs; Sexson, 43 HRs and 120 RBIs. Astros - Richard Hidalgo, .313 avg.; Jeff Bagwell, 37 HRs, 95 RBIs and 11 SBs; Lance Berkman, 109 runs.
SEASON SERIES: Astros, 8-6.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Brewers - OF Podsednik is just three runs shy of becoming the fourth rookie to hit .300, score 100 runs and get 40 steals. … INF Keith Ginter left Thursday’s game after the third inning with a strained side muscle. … The Brewers haven’t won a season series against Houston since 1997. Astros - LHP Robertson is 7-3 with a 4.73 ERA in 15 starts at Minute Maid Park this season. … Houston is 17-8 against Milwaukee all-time at Minute Maid Park. … OF Biggio extended his NL record to 34 leadoff homers. He has four this season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Brewers - 35-43 on the road; Astros - 47-31 at home.
INJURIES: Brewers - OF Geoff Jenkins (thumb), 15-day DL; RHP Jayson Durocher (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Matt Ford (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Nick Neugebauer (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Todd Ritchie (shoulder), 60-day DL; INF Ginter (side), day-to-day. Astros - LHP Carlos Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Moehler (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Rodrigo Rosario (shoulder), 60-day DL.