Rickie Weeks hasn’t gotten on base much, but he does lead Milwaukee in runs scored. The Brewers are having a tough time finding somebody to make up for that production.
With Weeks now on the disabled list, the Brewers look to break out of their slump at the plate when they play the middle game of their series with the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.
Milwaukee (33-31) put Weeks on the 15-day DL on Monday because of a sprained left knee. The Brewers’ leadoff man is hitting .210 and has a .325 on-base percentage, but his 43 runs rank among the NL leaders.
In three games since Weeks was injured Friday at Colorado, the Brewers have crossed the plate just six times. Milwaukee went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position in this series’ opener, a 6-1 loss to Houston (33-32) on Tuesday night.
The Brewers, 7 1/2 games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs in the NL Central, have lost three of four after winning a season-best six straight.
“Nobody is here pointing fingers,” Milwaukee starter Seth McClung told the team’s official Web site. “We want to win. We want to battle. We want to fight. We’re going to knock this road stuff off.”
Poor pitching has also contributed to Milwaukee’s struggles. The Brewers have given up six runs or more in their last three losses.
They’ll now hand the ball to Manny Parra (4-2, 4.33 ERA), who is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two career starts against Houston.
Parra, though, has allowed one earned run or none in four of his last five starts. He has won two straight outings, posting a 1.38 ERA and a .174 opponents batting average in that span.
The left-hander surrendered one run and four hits while matching a career high with eight strikeouts in seven innings as Milwaukee beat Arizona 10-1 on Wednesday.
Parra will be facing an Astros lineup that features Lance Berkman, one of the major league’s hottest hitters. Berkman is 3-for-6 with a double versus Parra.
Berkman homered, hit a three-run triple and singled Tuesday, finishing with five RBIs and raising his average to .379. The veteran first baseman’s 19 homers are second in the majors to Philadelphia’s Chase Utley (21), and he is the leader in runs scored (61) and extra-base hits (45).
Berkman helped Houston win for just the third time in its last 12 games. Astros general manager Ed Wade held a 10-minute team meeting prior to batting practice.
“I’m not going to talk about the meeting,” Wade said. “With all due respect, we had the team meeting, talked about some things, clarified some things and got ready for the game. If I wanted the media to be in the meeting, I would have invited them in.”
The Astros, trying to win consecutive games for the first time since May 23-24, will send Brandon Backe (4-7, 4.66 ERA) to the mound. He has posted a 7.36 ERA while losing his last two outings.
The right-hander gave up four runs and nine hits in six innings as Houston lost 5-3 to Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
Backe is 1-1 with a 5.91 ERA in two starts versus the Brewers this season, and 3-2 with a 3.97 ERA in five starts and three relief appearances all-time against them.