Houston manager Phil Garner insists his team’s biggest goal right now is getting back to .500.
The Astros try to reach the break-even mark Sunday when they try for a three-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.
The Astros (70-71) are three games behind NL wild-card leader San Diego and moved into second place in the NL Central for the first time since May 6 with Saturday’s 10-4 win over the Brewers. However, manager Phil Garner, whose team trails division-leading St. Louis by five games, insists Houston has to reach .500 before it can think about the postseason.
“We’re one game closer to .500 and that’s our goal,” Garner said. “We want to get to .500. We got there (before) and had trouble pushing over. We’ve got to get over the hump.”
The Astros have not been at .500 since they were 43-43 on July 6.
“It’s what we’ve said all along. We’ve got to get to .500 before we can even think about making a run at the postseason,” said Lance Berkman, who had two homers and four RBIs Saturday and is 7-for-11 with eight RBIs over his last three games. “We’ve been close a couple times but haven’t been able to get over the hump. Maybe this is the time we can get over .500 and make up some ground on these guys we’ve been chasin’.”
Hart is 9-for-20 with 10 RBIs in his last five games for Milwaukee, which has dropped 10 of 14 meetings with Houston this season.
Wandy Rodriguez (9-8, 5.43 ERA) will look to help Houston finish off the sweep. Astros starters have allowed three or fewer runs in each of the last 11 games.
Rodriguez gave up three runs and five hits in four innings of Houston’s 8-7 loss to the New York Mets on Sept. 1, but did not receive a decision. He has not won since July 2 at Texas, going 0-3 with a 7.91 ERA in four starts and three relief appearances and spending nearly a month in the minors since then.
The left-hander is 2-1 with a 4.03 ERA in six career appearances, including five starts, against the Brewers.
Rodriguez gave up four runs and three hits in 3 2-3 innings of a 6-4 loss to the Brewers on Aug. 19. Dave Bush (10-10, 4.66), who will start the series finale for Milwaukee, allowed four runs in seven innings in that game to earn the win.
Bush allowed three runs and eight hits in 7 1-3 innings of Monday’s 6-3 win over Greg Maddux and the Los Angeles Dodgers, helping the Brewers end a 10-game losing streak. He was coming off a strong outing in which he threw seven shutout innings opposite Houston’s Roger Clemens on Aug. 30 without receiving a decision in his team’s 1-0 loss.
Bush has made three career starts against the Astros—all this season— going 1-0 with a 3.15 ERA.