Based on the way they’ve performed at Houston’s Minute Maid Park lately, the Milwaukee Brewers have to feel good about their chances to continue their season-high winning streak.
The Brewers go for their eighth straight win and fourth in five games in Houston this season Wednesday night when they take on Rodriguez, owner of baseball’s lowest home ERA.
Milwaukee (25-14) has rebounded from a slow start by winning 21 of 26, including three of its first four in Houston. The Brewers have a .293 batting average and 2.68 staff ERA this year at Minute Maid Park, where they’ve won five of six dating to last season.
Milwaukee’s success in Houston continued in the opener of the NL Central rivals’ three-game series Tuesday night. Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder(notes) scored two runs apiece and J.J. Hardy(notes) had two hits and two RBIs as the Brewers took a 4-2 victory, their seventh straight and 13th in 15 games overall.
“We don’t talk about it,” Tuesday’s starter Dave Bush(notes) said of the streak, Milwaukee’s longest since an eight-game run from Aug. 5-13. “We know we have a solid team. We knew that at the beginning of the year, when we weren’t playing very well.”
Extending that run could be tough with Rodriguez (4-2, 1.90 ERA) taking the mound. The left-hander is 2-1 with a major league-best 0.67 home ERA in four starts in Houston this year and 4-2 with a 0.87 ERA in his last eight starts at Minute Maid Park dating to Aug. 26.
Though Rodriguez is just 3-5 with a 4.55 ERA in 12 career games - 11 starts - against the Brewers, he’s 1-0 with a 1.86 ERA in three home starts against them. Milwaukee, however, has won two of those games.
Rodriguez made his last start on the road, striking out a career-high 11 while allowing three runs - two earned - and five hits through seven innings of a 5-3 victory over Colorado on Thursday. The Astros (17-20) improved to 6-2 in games started by Rodriguez, one of only two pitchers in the majors to throw more than 25 innings without surrendering a home run.
Since struggling in his second game of the year, the right-hander is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 35 innings spanning five starts. He held the Chicago Cubs to two runs and five hits while striking out eight in five innings of a 12-6 victory May 9.
Gallardo gave up two runs while recording only four outs against St. Louis on Friday night, but that game was suspended in the second inning because of rain, wiping the start from his record.
Gallardo is 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA in three career starts against Houston, including two on the road. Astros first baseman Lance Berkman(notes) is 2 for 10 with four strikeouts in his career against Gallardo.
A career .303 hitter with runners in scoring position, Berkman is batting .179 in such situations this year. He was 0 for 1 as Houston went 2 for 11 as a team in Tuesday’s defeat.
“We didn’t have enough hits in key situations,” manager Cecil Cooper told the Astros’ official Web site. “We had them on the ropes and just didn’t get any good swings when we needed them.”