The Houston Astros will need to shake a frustrating slump if they hope to make a run for a playoff spot.
The Astros try to gain ground in the National League wild card race when they continue their four-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday.
The Astros (58-64) have lost six of their last seven games, including Friday’s 3-2 loss to the Brewers, dropping the reigning NL champions four games behind wild card leader Cincinnati.
Houston, which was swept in three games by the Chicago Cubs coming into this series, also fell into a third-place tie in the NL Central with Milwaukee. The Astros, 7 1/2 games behind NL Central leader St. Louis, have scored three or fewer runs in five of their last seven games.
“We shouldn’t have lost this game,” Houston starter Brandon Backe said Friday. “I definitely feel like our offense, the guys in the lineup, are better than theirs, but you can’t put it all on them.”
Center fielder Willy Taveras singled in the eighth for Houston, extending his career-best hitting streak to 21 games—the longest current run in the majors. He is hitting .322 (29-for-90) during the streak.
Rookie Prince Fielder singled home the winning run in the ninth inning for the Brewers (58-64), who have won three of four. Reliever Francisco Cordero, acquired from Texas as part of the deal that sent slugger Carlos Lee to the Rangers, earned his first win with his new team.
Dave Bush (8-9, 4.69 ERA) will look to help Milwaukee climb up the standings. He gave up four runs and six hits—including two homers—in five innings of a 4-2 loss Monday to Pittsburgh.
“I like the way I threw the ball,” said Bush, who had allowed three runs in 14 innings while winning both his previous starts. “I felt as good as I felt the last couple of starts. It was a situation where they manufactured a couple, hit a couple home runs.”
Bush made his only career start against the Astros on April 17, allowing three runs in six innings without receiving a decision in Milwaukee’s 8-7 loss.
Dave Borkowski (1-1, 3.48) will get his first start of the season for Houston in place of ace Roy Oswalt. A two-time 20-game winner, Oswalt was hit in the right wrist by a line drive in his last start on Monday, and will be pushed back several days.
Borkowski has made 29 relief appearances this season, most recently on Tuesday, when he allowed two runs in six innings and was charged with the loss in Houston’s 8-6, 18-inning loss to the Cubs.
Borkowski is 4-11 with a 6.51 ERA in 21 career starts, but is making his first since Aug. 20, 2004 while with Baltimore.
In his only career appearance against Milwaukee, Borkowski tossed three scoreless innings of relief for Detroit without getting a decision on June 10, 2001.