Houston (62-77) at Milwaukee (70-68)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Milwaukee, WI
Temp: 79° F
  • Game info: 8:05 pm EDT Wed Sep 5, 2007
  • TV: FSSW, FSWI
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Much has been made about the bullpen struggles of the Milwaukee Brewers. Closer Francisco Cordero might finally have been angry enough to do something about it.

The feisty reliever tries to help the Brewers complete a six-game homestand with five victories as they close a three-game series with the Houston Astros on Wednesday.

Cordero set a franchise record with his 40th save in Tuesday’s 5-3 victory that pulled Milwaukee (70-68) within one-half game of the first-place Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. After the Brewers suffered a major league-leading 15th loss when having a lead of at least three runs on Monday, Cordero worked around two ninth-inning hits to break the record set by Dan Kolb in 2004 and equaled by Derrick Turnbow the following season.

“It’s nice, but really I’m not here for a record,” Cordero said. “What we’re trying to do is win the division and go to the playoffs.”

The hard-throwing right-hander also appeared to take exception to Astros manager Cecil Cooper asking plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth to examine a band on the pitcher’s arm. Cordero promptly made batter Mike Lamb shuffle his feet in the batter’s box with a pitch low and inside.

“Sometimes they do that to put something in your mind in a close game, to see whether you can handle a situation like that. But I don’t think about that,” said Cordero, who added he didn’t throw at Lamb, but said if he wanted to hit someone, he “can do it, and I’m going to do it real good.”

The Brewers brought in some bullpen help Tuesday, acquiring Ray King from the Washington Nationals for a player to be named. The left-hander, who was with Milwaukee from 2000-02, is 1-1 with a 4.54 ERA in 55 appearances, but has given up only one run over his last nine games.

“Another veteran left-handed guy that can come in,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said. “We play teams that have pretty proficient left-handed hitting coming up. This gives us another option.”

Even with King’s arrival, Yost said he likely would start using Cordero in the eighth inning down the stretch. Cordero has worked more than one inning just three times all season.

Offensively, Ryan Braun provided the big hit Tuesday with his 27th homer - one shy of the team rookie record set by current NL leader Prince Fielder last year. Braun is 7-for-11 with two homers, five RBIs and six runs in his last three games after going 0-for-7 with five strikeouts in the first two of the homestand.

Matt Albers (4-6, 5.36 ERA) will try to slow Braun and the Brewers. The right-hander is 2-1 in four starts since rejoining the rotation on a regular basis, and is coming off one of his best outings of the season after limiting the St. Louis Cardinals to one run in seven innings of a 2-1 victory Thursday.

“I’m starting to feel more comfortable on the mound,” he said. “I’m trying to just trust my stuff and try not to make too good a pitch. I needed to get my brains beat in for a while to force me to get out of some of those things.”

Albers has made both a start and a relief appearance against the Brewers in 2007, not getting a decision either time, but limiting them to two runs in seven innings.

Brewers rookie Yovani Gallardo (6-4, 4.66) is trying to win consecutive starts for just the second time. The 21-year-old right-hander shut down the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday, giving up two runs in seven innings while striking out seven in a 3-2 victory, and hit his first major league homer.

“I was pretty excited,” Gallardo said of his home run. “But I was a lot more excited about getting those two outs in the seventh.”

Gallardo has never faced the Astros.

The Brewers start a six-game road trip at Cincinnati on Friday following this game.

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Starting Pitchers

M. Albers Hou vs. Y. Gallardo Mil
4-11 Record 9-5
5.86 ERA 3.67
71 K 101
50 BB 37
1.60 WHIP 1.27

Scoreboard

Wednesday, Sep 5