Houston lost 12-5 to Milwaukee on Friday night, falling a half-game behind Chicago in the NL Central. The Cubs’ game against Pittsburgh was rained out and the teams will play a doubleheader Saturday.
“What we’ve got to do is sleep real fast and come back here tomorrow ready to go,” Astros manager Jimy Williams said. “We just didn’t execute like we’re capable of and because of that we got ourselves in a hole and they were up 9-1.”
If the Cubs sweep their three-game series with the Pirates, they would be the division champions.
“This is not the end of the world,” Astros star Jeff Bagwell said. “All it means is we’ve got to win our next two and hope they lose one of three. You don’t expect games like this late in a season, in a pennant drive. But I guess those things happen.”
Richie Sexson homered twice and doubled for the Brewers. He has 45 homers this season, tying his own franchise record set in 2001. Gorman Thomas also hit 45 homers in 1979. It was Sexson’s fourth multihomer game this season and the 16th of his career.
“It’s a good feeling to play the spoiler role,” Sexson said. “That’s where our intensity lies. That’s how we get upbeat for the game. We take intensity from their crowd. We use that to get us going.
“We saw Chicago got rained out so we knew this was a very important game for both teams.”
STANDINGS: Brewers - 6th place, 19 1/2 GB, NL Central. Astros - 2nd place, 1/2 GB, NL Central.
BREWERS PROBABLE STARTER: Wes Obermueller (1-5, 5.46 ERA). Obermueller is coming off his first major league win, beating Arizona 6-4 on Sunday. It took the young pitcher 13 starts, including two last season with Kansas City, to get that victory. He allowed three runs and eight hits with three walks and one strikeout before leaving after six innings. Obermueller made his only career appearance against Houston on Sept. 9 and did not get a decision.
ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Ron Villone (6-5, 3.92 ERA). Villone did not figure in his last start, Monday’s 6-3 loss to San Francisco in which closer Billy Wagner allowed two homers in the ninth inning. Before his exit, Villone allowed two runs and four hits over 6 1-3 innings. He is 2-5 with an 8.06 ERA in nine career starts against the Brewers.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Brewers - Scott Podsednik, .312 avg., 97 runs and 43 SBs; Sexson, 45 HRs and 124 RBIs. Astros - Richard Hidalgo, .313 avg.; Bagwell, 37 HRs, 95 RBIs and 11 SBs; Lance Berkman, 109 runs.
SEASON SERIES: Astros, 8-7.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Brewers - OF Brady Clark is 0-for-10 in his career against LHP Villone. … Opponents are hitting .302 against RHP Obermueller this season. … 1B Sexson has hit more homers in a three-year span than any other Brewers player. He has 119 and has surpassed Thomas, who had 115 from 1978-80. Astros - Houston is 17-9 all-time against the Brewers at Minute Maid Park. … The Astros will present their 2003 player development and scouting awards before Saturday’s game. … If the Astros and Cubs finish tied for first place, they’ll settle the division championship with a one-game playoff Monday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Brewers - 36-43 on the road; Astros - 47-32 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. Astros - LHP Carlos Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Moehler (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Rodrigo Rosario (shoulder), 60-day DL.