Astros-Brewers Preview

The Associated Press

The Milwaukee Brewers' weekend at home didn't go as well as they wanted.

Giving the ball to Zack Greinke could help the defending NL Central champs get back on track.

The Brewers will try to win their 18th consecutive game at Miller Park when Greinke starts as they open a series with the Houston Astros on Monday night.

After winning two of three against the Los Angeles Dodgers to open its nine-game homestand, Milwaukee (7-9) dropped two of three to Colorado over the weekend.

Despite being held to four hits in Sunday's 4-1 loss, the Brewers should enter this series with plenty of confidence. They outscored Houston 57-18 while winning the last nine games between these division rivals last season to finish 12-3 in this matchup in 2011.

Greinke (1-1, 5.09 ERA) will make his first home start against the Astros (6-10) after going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two starts in Houston last season - his first with Milwaukee.

Since joining the club, the 2009 AL Cy Young winner is 12-0 with a 2.89 ERA in 17 starts at Miller Park. It's the longest home winning streak in the majors. Greinke didn't earn a decision in Wednesday's 3-2, 10-inning victory over the Dodgers, but he struck out seven in seven strong innings.

"We just find ways to win here," Greinke told the Brewers' official website after Nyjer Morgan scored the game-winner on Ryan Braun's sacrifice fly.

Milwaukee has won 29 of 39 at home versus Houston since the start of 2007.

The Astros will look for better results at Miller Park as they begin their six-game trip. Sparked by center fielder Jordan Schafer's first career grand slam, Houston pounded out 12 hits and won for just the third time in 12 games Sunday, 12-0 over the Dodgers.

It was the club's largest shutout victory since defeating Colorado by the same score on July 1, 2007.

That type of offensive production could benefit Monday's scheduled starter Lucas Harrell (1-0, 2.55), who will make his first career appearance in Milwaukee.

The right-hander has given up one run or fewer in two of three starts after throwing 6 2-3 innings of one-run ball in Wednesday's 3-2 loss at Washington.

"He kept the ball down and made some good quality pitches when he had to," manager Brad Mills said. "He pitched extremely well."

Harrell did that the only time he faced the Brewers, tossing 5 1-3 shutout innings in an 8-2 loss Sept. 2 when he pitched opposite Greinke.

Braun, who is hitless in three at-bats off Harrell, batted .365 (23 for 63) with four homers and 14 RBIs off Astros pitching last season. The reigning NL MVP, though, is off to the slowest 15-game start in his six-year career with two homers and seven RBIs.

Carlos Lee, who hit the ball out of the park Sunday for the first time since opening day, led the Astros with four homers and 11 RBIs against Milwaukee last season, but he hit just .189 (10 for 53).

The former Brewer had two hits - including a home run - in 25 at-bats at Miller Park last season.

If Schafer can extend his on-base streak to 17, it will match the longest for an Astro since Craig Biggio reached safely in that many games to begin 2000.

Houston's last victory over Milwaukee was 5-0 at home on May 1.

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