Milwaukee (5-5) at Houston (6-3)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 97° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Thu Apr 15, 2004
  • TV: FSSW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Ben Sheets was not happy with the way he pitched last season—except when he faced the Houston Astros.

Sheets’ dominance of Houston continued Saturday, and he’ll try to deliver another strong performance when the Milwaukee Brewers open a four-game series against the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

After struggling in his opening day start against the St. Louis Cardinals, Sheets was much better against the Astros on Saturday. The 25-year-old right-hander allowed four hits over six scoreless innings in a 6-1 win.

“I haven’t been this excited for a long time, because I’ve struggled for as long as I ever have in my career,” said Sheets, who was 11-13 last season. “Maybe it’s partly because I’ve been embarrassed the way things are going. It was a great day today.”

Since dropping his first two decisions against the Astros in 2001, Sheets has beaten them seven straight times. Houston first baseman Jeff Bagwell said he never saw Sheets better than he was Saturday.

“He was great today,” Bagwell said. “It’s the best I’ve ever seen him. He’s pitched some good games against us. He had an overpowering fastball and curveball against us today.”

Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said Sheets provided the performance he always expected.

“He had command of all his pitches today and that was evident,” Yost said. “He threw a fantastic game. He really pitched great.”

The Brewers had lost three straight before beating the San Francisco Giants 3-0 on Wednesday. Wes Obermueller allowed three hits in 6 2-3 innings and had an RBI single to help Milwaukee avoid a three-game sweep.

Since getting shut down by Sheets on Saturday, the Astros have won four straight. Wade Miller pitched seven scoreless innings Wednesday, and Lance Berkman homered for the second straight game to lead Houston to an 11-1 rout of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Bagwell also homered for the Astros, and Bagwell, Craig Biggio and Richard Hidalgo each had three hits.

Biggio is trying a new batting stance, eliminating the leg kick he had for most of his career. He is hitting .412.

“The biggest thing about not having it anymore is you’re not moving as much and the ball’s not moving as much,” Biggio said. “Hopefully, you cannot swing at as many bad pitches.”

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Starting Pitchers

B. Sheets Atl vs. T. Redding Tor
12-14 Record 5-7
2.70 ERA 5.72
264 K 56
32 BB 43
0.98 WHIP 1.67