A year ago, Zack Greinke struggled to consistently win on the road. That has not been the case during his second season with the Milwaukee Brewers.
The subject of trade rumors, Greinke on Saturday tries to win a third straight road start and continue his dominance over a Houston Astros club trying to end a nine-game skid.
Last season, Greinke (9-2, 3.08 ERA) went 5-7 with a 4.59 ERA in 14 road starts, including a loss in Game 5 of the NL championship series at St. Louis. This year, he's 5-2 with a 4.03 ERA in 10 outings away from Miller Park.
He's also 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA in five road starts since losing at Arizona on May 26. Five days after allowing three hits in nine innings of a 1-0, 10-inning road victory over the Chicago White Sox on June 22, Greinke yielded two runs in six innings of a 8-4 win at Cincinnati.
Greinke is also 4-0 with a 2.39 ERA in seven starts overall since the May loss to the Diamondbacks, but gave up five runs in six innings while not factoring in the decision of a 6-5 home win over Miami on Monday.
"It was a pretty bad outing for me,'' said Greinke, who is 16-0 with a 3.10 ERA in 24 regular and postseason starts at Miller Park over the last two seasons.
Greinke improved to 4-0 with a 2.00 lifetime ERA against the Astros after allowing two runs and striking out nine in six innings of a 6-5 home win April 23. He's 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA at Minute Maid Park.
With free agency looming this offseason and Milwaukee's subpar first half, Greinke may be trade bait.
"The Brewers need to do what's best for the Brewers, and that's just how things go," he told the Brewers' official website. "Hopefully nothing happens and we start playing better. That would be the best-case scenario for everyone."
Milwaukee (39-44) avoided a third straight loss Friday by taking an advantage of an opponent mired in a worse slump. Norichika Aoki and Ryan Braun hit consecutive first-inning homers in a 7-1 series-opening victory that was also the ninth consecutive loss for Houston.
Braun is batting .354 with five home runs in his last 23 games at Minute Maid Park, and is hitting .412 with five doubles among his 14 hits off probable Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez (6-6, 3.54).
The left-hander allowed three runs in the sixth inning of a 3-0 loss at Wrigley Field on Sunday, falling to 0-2 with a 4.35 ERA in his last three starts.
Rodriguez, 7-8 with a 3.82 ERA in 20 career starts against the Brewers, now looks to help the Astros (32-52) avoid losing 10 in a row for the first time since May 20-30, 2007. Scott Moore homered and Jason Castro had two of the five hits Friday for Houston, which has batted .201 and been outscored 51-19 during its skid.
"We just have to get back to having fun,'' outfielder J.D. Martinez said. "And that's hard when you are losing."
Moore is batting .333 (9 for 27) with two home runs in seven games since being recalled from the minors June 26, getting at least one hit in each contest he's played.