Houston (32-45) at Milwaukee (45-32)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Milwaukee, WI
Temp: 66° F
  • Game info: 2:05 pm EDT Wed Jun 27, 2007
  • TV: FSSW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Milwaukee Brewers own the best divisional record in the National League. Their play against the Houston Astros is a big reason why.

The Brewers try to complete a three-game sweep of the Astros when the teams meet Wednesday at Miller Park.

Milwaukee (45-32) is 20-10 against NL Central opponents, which has propelled the team to a 7 1/2-game lead in the division over the second-place Chicago Cubs. The Brewers have won six of eight meetings with the Astros in 2007, including an 11-5 victory on Tuesday.

Milwaukee trailed by two runs heading into the bottom of the sixth, but scored nine runs in the inning - its most in a frame this season. Johnny Estrada’s grand slam highlighted the outburst while Tony Graffanino added a pinch-hit, two-run homer and Rickie Weeks hit a bases-loaded single.

Corey Hart went 2-for-4 in the win to extend his career-high hitting streak to 13 games, batting .390 (23-for-59) during that stretch. The Brewers have won 11 of their last 13, averaging 6.9 runs and batting .311.

“We’re just excited about the way we’re playing,” Graffanino told the Brewers’ official Web site. “We’re happy with the contributions we’re getting from everybody in this room, and we just want to keep going. Positive things are happening, and we just want to keep things going in the right direction.”

Milwaukee is an NL-best 29-13 at home and will hand the ball to Jeff Suppan (8-7, 4.90 ERA) as it concludes a nine-game stretch there.

The right-hander began the season 5-2 with a 2.63 ERA, but has gone 3-5 with a 6.96 ERA in his last nine starts. He allowed five runs and nine hits over five innings on Friday, but came away with an 11-6 victory over Kansas City.

Suppan is trying to win consecutive starts for the first time since a five-start winning streak April 14-May 5. He is 2-6 with a 4.73 ERA in 11 career games versus the Astros, going 0-3 in his last four starts against them.

Houston (32-45) has dropped five of its last six overall and is an NL-worst 15-27 on the road.

“We’re not getting it done,” said Astros manager Phil Garner, whose team is concluding a nine-game trip. “What makes matters worse is we’re giving up a lot of runs. We can’t keep the ball in the ballpark. We’re not making good pitches. We’re not keeping the game close and it’s hard on us.”

Woody Williams (3-10, 5.75) tries to avoid losing his fifth straight road start when he takes the ball for Houston. The right-hander has posted a 6.95 ERA in four consecutive defeats away from home, including an 11-3 loss to Texas on Friday.

He allowed five runs and seven hits over four innings while walking four and striking out two for his 10th loss of the season.

“I can’t believe it,” Williams told the Astros’ official Web site of his defeats. “It’s disheartening at times but I can’t change it. All I can do is go out there next time and rebound and do the best I can. I’m trying. It’s not like I’m giving up or want my teammates to give up.”

Williams is 12-6 with a 3.05 ERA in 28 career games, including 19 starts, versus the Brewers - his most wins and appearances against any opponent. He did suffer a 3-1 defeat to them on April 29 despite allowing just three runs and five hits through six innings.

Luke Scott homered twice Tuesday as the Astros tied a season high with four homers. Craig Biggio recorded a single in the loss to move within three hits of becoming the 27th player to reach 3,000, but he is not expected to start Wednesday’s contest.

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Starting Pitchers

W. Williams Hou vs. J. Suppan SD
8-15 Record 12-12
5.27 ERA 4.62
101 K 114
53 BB 68
1.43 WHIP 1.50

Scoreboard

Wednesday, Jun 27