The Milwaukee Brewers remain the same confident group they were prior to being swept by their closest pursuer in the NL Central.
That doesn’t mean they can take any team lightly, even the lowly Houston Astros.
Looking to avoid losing four in a row for the first time in two months Friday night, the visiting Brewers hope to continue their recent dominance of an Astros team trying for a season-high fifth consecutive victory.
Milwaukee (81-57) had won 27 of 32 before it was outscored 18-8 during a three-game home sweep at the hands of second-place St. Louis. Though the Cardinals trimmed the Brewers’ division lead to 7 1/2 games, Milwaukee is not about to panic.
“Seven and a half is still plenty good,” said right fielder Corey Hart(notes), who homered for the fourth time in five games in Thursday’s 8-4 loss. “We’ve got to go on the road and start playing a little better. We’ve been doing it all year, so I don’t see why we’re not going to do it.”
Though the Brewers are just 31-38 away from Miller Park, they have won 10 of 13 on the road - a stretch that began with a three-game sweep at Houston from Aug. 5-7. Milwaukee will be seeking a seventh straight victory over the Astros (47-90), but after receiving a wake-up call from the Cardinals, it likely won’t be taking anything for granted.
“It’s important for us to win games,” manager Ron Roenicke told the Brewers’ official website. “We can’t look past Houston. We need to go in there and play them like we did the last time.”
Hart, 11 for 29 with two home runs versus Houston this season, is batting .397 during a 14-game hitting streak. Prince Fielder(notes), who became the first player in Brewers history with at least 30 home runs in five consecutive seasons Thursday, is 22 for 47 (.468) with five homers and 14 RBIs against the Astros in 2011.
Scheduled starter Zack Greinke(notes) (13-5, 4.05 ERA) is 3-5 with a 5.56 ERA in 10 road starts, but one of those victories came when he allowed a run in seven innings of a 7-3 win at Houston on Aug. 7.
The right-hander improved to 10-0 with a 2.96 ERA in 12 home starts when he gave up a run and four hits in 7 2-3 innings of a 3-2 win over the Cubs on Sunday.
Greinke will face a Houston lineup that’s averaged 5.3 runs and 11.0 hits during a four-game winning streak, including a three-game sweep of Pittsburgh.
Though the Astros are in the midst of a youth movement, veteran Carlos Lee(notes) has hit .457 (21 for 46) with nine extra-base hits during a 12-game hitting streak. He’s just 2 for 14 versus Greinke, although he has gone deep once.
Houston will call up Lucas Harrell(notes) (0-0, 7.20) to make Friday’s start in place of Brett Myers(notes), who is expecting his fourth child. Acquired off waivers from the White Sox in July, Harrell was 5-2 with a 1.72 ERA in nine starts for Triple-A Oklahoma City.
The right-hander made three relief appearances for Chicago this season and is 1-0 with a 6.28 ERA in three career starts - all in 2010.