The Houston Astros have dominated the Milwaukee Brewers at Minute Maid Park in recent years. Following a miserable road trip, the Astros hope that success continues when the teams begin a three-game series in Houston on Friday.
The Astros (9-12) are 20-5 against the Brewers (13-8) in Houston over the past three-plus seasons, never losing back-to-back games in that span. Milwaukee has never won any of the 17 series it has played at Minute Maid Park since the venue opened in the 2000 season.
The teams met for a three-game set in Milwaukee last weekend and none of the games were decided by more than two runs.
Houston won the series opener 6-5, but dropped the next two games and followed that with a loss at Philadelphia before being suffering a three-game sweep at Pittsburgh. Twelve hours after falling 4-3 in 16 innings, the Astros dropped their sixth straight on Thursday with a 5-3 loss to the Pirates.
Houston finished the nine-game road trip 3-6, failing to score more than four runs in any of the final six games.
“It’s good to be going home,” said manager Phil Garner. “We just lost our offense. We had some good games but we also had some games we didn’t appear too focused on.”
The Astros will look to Roy Oswalt (3-1, 3.34 ERA) to help the team end its slide and avoid its first seven-game losing streak since May 2005. The right-hander allowed four runs and seven hits in seven innings of a 4-3 loss to the Brewers on Sunday.
Oswalt had won nine straight decisions dating back to Aug. 23.
It was his first loss in five starts versus the Brewers. Oswalt is 11-7 with a 3.48 ERA in 21 career starts against them.
Milwaukee had won four straight and six of seven before losing 9-3 to the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday to close a three-game set. Reliever Elmer Dessens allowed five unearned runs in the fourth inning and the Brewers bullpen gave up all nine runs after starter Ben Sheets left the game after three innings with a strained groin.
The five fourth-inning runs came due to a fielding error by shortstop J.J. Hardy on a potential double-play ball. The team wasn’t helped by a poor offensive showing, scoring its fewest runs in 10 games.
“J.J should definitely make that play. And when you don’t, you have to find ways to cover it up. We just didn’t cover it,” manager Ned Yost said.
Milwaukee’s relievers have pitched 66 2-3 innings—among the most in the majors—after throwing 14 during the series with the Cubs.
With a weary bullpen, the Brewers are counting on Chris Capuano (3-0, 3.68) for a lengthy outing on Friday.
Capuano made his longest start of the season last Saturday against the Astros, allowing four runs and four hits in six innings of a 6-4 win. The left-hander walked six, but also struck out six.
“I got through the sixth, which was big, so now I have to figure out a way to get through the seventh,” Capuano told the Brewers’ official Web site. “I’m working on that.”
Capuano is 3-3 with a 4.19 ERA in seven career starts against the Astros.