Houston (61-76) at Milwaukee (69-67)

Fair Currently: Milwaukee, WI
Temp: 1° F
  • Game info: 2:05 pm EDT Mon Sep 3, 2007
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Ben Sheets couldn’t have asked for a better performance in his first start since coming off the disabled list.

The Milwaukee Brewers hope their ace can turn in another good one when they open a three-game set Monday afternoon against Roy Oswalt and the Houston Astros at Miller Park.

Sheets (11-4, 3.30 ERA) allowed one run and six hits in six innings of a 6-1 win over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday in his first start since July 14. The right-hander had been out for 1 1/2 months with a sprained finger in his pitching hand and then was slowed by a blister, but appears healthy and ready to help the second-place Brewers continue their pursuit of the NL Central-leading Cubs.

“It’s kind of an empty feeling. It’s something that you wait seven years to be a part of and to not be a part of that August was tough,” said Sheets of the team’s pennant race. “There is a month left and I can do something about that month. I’ve got six starts, and that’s what I’m going to try to make count.”

Milwaukee (69-67) beat Pittsburgh 7-4 on Sunday at home to sweep the Pirates and remain 1 1/2 games behind Chicago. Having Sheets back in the rotation should help the Brewers, who are 9-3 against Houston this season and 5-1 versus the Astros at Miller Park.

Sheets threw 86 pitches Wednesday and could be extended past that number Monday.

“We’ll see. Hopefully it carries over and has a good effect on us,” said Sheets, who is 10-8 with a 3.71 ERA in 22 starts against Houston.

He is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two starts against the Astros this season. Sheets allowed one run in six innings of a 6-1 home victory over Houston on June 25.

Prince Fielder hit his NL-leading 40th homer on Sunday and Ryan Braun went 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs for Milwaukee, who will look to win four in row for the first time since July 14-17.

Four of Fielder’s 11 hits against the Astros have been homers, but he is 1-for-19 lifetime against Oswalt.

Oswalt (14-6, 3.21) will try for his seventh straight victory after he allowed four hits in seven stellar innings of a 7-0 win over St. Louis on Wednesday. He improved to 6-0 with a 1.01 ERA in seven starts since losing 9-3 to the Cubs on July 14.

In his last outing, Oswalt didn’t seem to show any effects of a strained oblique muscle that forced him to miss his previous start.

“I was a little worried going into the game,” Oswalt said. “I took it easy the first few innings. After the fourth inning, I let it go.”

Oswalt is 11-8 with a 3.50 ERA in 22 starts against Milwaukee, but 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in two April starts versus the Brewers this season.

Houston (61-76) blew a four-run lead and lost 6-5 to the Cubs on Sunday to drop the final two games of the series after winning three straight.

Lance Berkman hit a two-run homer in the first inning for the Astros, who are an NL-worst 25-43 on the road.

Berkman went 1-for-3 Sunday after going 0-for-4 in Saturday’s 4-3 loss, but is still batting .444 (12-for-27) with three homers and seven RBIs in his last seven games. He is a career .315 (17-for-54) hitter with four homers and 14 RBIs against Sheets.

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Starting Pitchers

R. Oswalt Col vs. B. Sheets Atl
14-7 Record 12-5
3.18 ERA 3.82
154 K 106
60 BB 37
1.33 WHIP 1.24

Scoreboard

Monday, Sep 3