Milwaukee (7-5) at Houston (8-4)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Houston, TX
Temp: 89° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Mon Apr 17, 2006
  • TV: KNWS
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Tony Gwynn: Video Astros’ start could lure Clemens back

The Milwaukee Brewers had their share of problems last season against the Houston Astros. Carlos Lee and Geoff Jenkins were among the biggest culprits.

Lee and Jenkins hope to get untracked against the Astros when the Brewers begin a three-game series Monday at Minute Maid Park.

Milwaukee (7-5) went 5-10 against Houston last season, managing only 50 runs in the 15 games. The Brewers went 2-7 at Minute Maid Park.

The offensive struggles were personified by Lee and Jenkins at the heart of Milwaukee’s batting order. Lee hit .203 (12-for-59) and Jenkins fared slightly better at .240 (12-for-50) last year against the Astros.

The Brewers will be facing a pitcher they have never seen in Astros rookie Taylor Buchholz, making his first major-league start. Buchholz has appeared twice in relief, suffering his first loss after allowing two runs and four hits over three innings in a 5-3 loss at San Francisco on Thursday in the first game of a doubleheader.

“I’m really excited,” Buchholz said. “I finally get to make my first start. Whenever I’m pitching out there, there’s always a little butterflies, but that’s how it has always been for me, and it gives me some energy.”

The 24-year-old right-hander, acquired as part of the 2003 deal that sent Billy Wagner to Philadelphia, went through injuries each of the last two years. He suffered a strained shoulder in 2004 that led to surgery and hurt his right shoulder again last season.

“I went through some tough times,” Buchholz said. “I’ve never really had to deal with injuries my whole life, and last year, coming back off of the surgery, I never really got my stuff back and was kind of throwing my ‘C’ stuff.

“When I got on a roll, I got hurt again. But I went out to the Arizona Fall League and was throwing great again. I got my confidence back and took it into spring training.”

Buchholz will become the second straight pitcher to make his first major league start for Houston. Fernando Nieve allowed two runs and four hits over four innings in an 8-5 victory at Arizona on Sunday.

Houston (8-4) completed a 3-2 road trip with Sunday’s victory. Morgan Ensberg homered for the second straight game and Lance Berkman drove in three runs for the Astros.

“The presence of Lance in the lineup healthy is just something you can’t explain,” said Ensberg, who bats cleanup behind Berkman. “He goes in there and crushes the ball. When I came up to bat, the pressure was really off. “

Berkman batted .341 (15-for-44) last season against the Brewers.

Brewers starter Dave Bush tries to bounce back from a rough outing his last time on the mound. Bush was tagged for eight runs—seven earned—and seven hits over six innings in an 8-3 loss to St. Louis on Wednesday.

“He just wasn’t exceptionally sharp tonight,” Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. “He made some mistakes in the strike zone and (St. Louis) isn’t a club you can get away with too many mistakes.”

The 26-year-old right-hander is facing Houston for the first time.

Milwaukee fell to 2-4 on its nine-game road trip after a 9-3 loss at the New York Mets on Sunday. Jenkins had three hits for the Brewers, who left 14 runners on base.

“I felt good,” Jenkins said. “We had plenty of opportunities. We just didn’t take advantage of the opportunities we had.”

Lee went 0-for-4 after homering in three of the previous four games.

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Starting Pitchers

D. Bush Tor vs. T. Buchholz NYM
12-11 Record 6-10
4.41 ERA 5.89
166 K 77
38 BB 34
1.14 WHIP 1.25