Milwaukee (73-74) at Houston (79-68)

  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Sat Sep 17, 2005
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Brandon Backe’s insertion into the Houston Astros’ rotation helped the club secure the NL wild card last year. He isn’t making the same contribution to Houston’s playoff drive this season.

Hoping to bounce back from his recent ineffectiveness, Backe takes the mound against the Milwaukee Brewers when the NL Central rivals continue a three-game series at Minute Maid Park.

Backe went 4-2 with a 3.80 ERA in nine starts after last season’s All-Star break, helping stabilize the Astros’ rotation and get them into the postseason. However, injuries and inconsistency have stopped his from having the same results this season.

Backe allowed four runs and seven hits over five innings in an 8-2 loss to Florida on Monday, his second game back after missing five weeks with a ribcage injury.

He has allowed seven runs in nine since returing to the rotation.

“I think he is back, but he is not quite to the point we have seen him pitch before,” said Houston manager Phil Garner. “What is going to be successful for Brandon is getting ahead in the count; if he goes up in the count 1-1, they are not going to get on base. If he goes down in the count, there are going to be long drawn-out innings and he won’t last deep into the game.”

Jeff Bagwell’s run-scoring single lifted Houston over Milwaukee 2-1 on Friday night, keeping the wild card-leading Astros a half-game ahead of Philadelphia, which beat Florida 13-3 on Friday.

“You have to be a little nervous in that situation,” Bagwell said. “It was a big moment, and it’s a win we needed.”

It was Bagwell’s third appearance overall, and first hit since returning Sept. 9 from shoulder surgery.

“The crowd has always been great to me and I’m glad I was able to come through for them,” he said.

Milwaukee had won three of four before Friday’s loss, and is still vying for its first winning season since 1992, when it went 92-70.

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Starting Pitchers

W. Obermueller MIA vs. B. Backe HOU
1-4 Record 10-8
5.26 ERA 4.76
33 K 97
36 BB 67
1.69 WHIP 1.46