Milwaukee (62-82) at Houston (80-67)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 81° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Fri Sep 17, 2004
  • TV: FSSW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Coming off a series victory over the team with baseball’s best record, the Houston Astros continue their playoff hunt as they open a three-game set with the Milwaukee Brewers at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros took two of three from the St. Louis Cardinals with Thursday’s 8-3 win. It was Houston’s 16th victory in the last 20 games, keeping the Astros within two games of San Francisco in the chase for the NL wild card.

Mike Lamb homered and Jeff Kent doubled twice and drove in four runs for the Astros on Thursday. Kent went 6-for-13 (.462) with a homer, four doubles and seven RBIs in the three games against the Cardinals.

The Astros will start Roy Oswalt, who is tied with Florida’s Carl Pavano and teammate Roger Clemens for the NL lead with 17 wins.

Houston is 11-1 in Oswalt’s last 12 starts, with the right-hander winning nine of 10 decisions over that stretch. He won four straight starts before the Astros’ 5-4, 10-inning victory at Pittsburgh on Sunday. Oswalt allowed two runs and six hits over seven innings, giving him a 3.47 ERA since the All-Star break.

“I told myself in the second half I need to start doing more research on hitters and focusing a little more,” Oswalt said. “Try to get us in a situation where we can win a little more. A lot of times we scored two or three runs and I’d give up two or three and they’d get back in the game.”

The Brewers kept Barry Bonds from hitting his 700th homer, but couldn’t avoid getting swept in three straight by the San Francisco Giants, capped by Thursday’s 4-0 defeat.

Brady Clark, who had two of the Brewers’ three hits Thursday, is batting .342 (13-for-38) with two homers, four doubles and nine RBIs in his last 10 games.

“I’m proud that the pitchers kind of stared down the throat of the lion, so to speak, and didn’t blink. But we didn’t accomplish what we wanted to do and that’s win some ballgames,” Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said.

“It was fun matching up against (Bonds), it was. But to lose the ballgame takes a lot of the fun out of it.”

The last-place Brewers have lost five of six overall.

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Starting Pitchers

B. Sheets Atl vs. R. Oswalt Col
12-14 Record 20-10
2.70 ERA 3.49
264 K 206
32 BB 62
0.98 WHIP 1.24