Astros-Brewers Preview

The Milwaukee Brewers made a major investment Thursday by

signing Ryan Braun to a five-year, $105 million extension. That

will be money well spent if the three-time All-Star continues to

produce at this pace.

Braun and the Brewers look to win their fifth straight at home

over the Houston Astros on Saturday night when this NL Central

series continues.

Already playing on a seven-year extension signed in 2008 after

winning the NL Rookie of the Year award in 2007, Braun is now

guaranteed $145.5 million through 2020.

In his first game since signing his new deal, he went 3 for 4

with a go-ahead three-run homer as Milwaukee (10-9) won 14-7 on

Friday to open a six-game homestand.

“I really don’t think I could’ve scripted it much better, it was

pretty cool,” said Braun, who added that it was “absolutely

amazing” to receive a standing ovation prior to his first plate

appearance. “Definitely a special night for me individually and a

great night for us as a team. A lot of guys contributed.”

Sparked by Braun, who is batting .382 following his sixth

straight multihit game against Houston, the Brewers had a

season-high 17 hits and scored their most runs since an 18-1

victory at the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 2.

Milwaukee has won six of seven at Miller Park.

Shaun Marcum (2-1, 1.90 ERA), who makes his second home start

Saturday, doesn’t have the same following there as Braun, but the

first-year Brewer is well on his way to becoming a fan

favorite.

Since giving up two second-inning runs in a 4-2 home win over

Atlanta on April 7, Marcum has not surrendered an earned run in 17

innings. The right-hander struck out five and walked none in six

innings of Monday’s 6-3, 12-inning victory at Philadelphia.

“He pitched a pretty good game, kept us off balance most of the

night,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

Marcum gets his first look at the Astros (7-13) after a stint on

the bereavement list this week that allowed him to return to

Missouri to be with his father, who had heart surgery.

Houston continues its six-game trip with Brett Myers (1-0, 2.39)

on the mound.

The veteran right-hander, who has pitched at least six innings

in 36 of 37 starts since the beginning of 2010, was in line for a

win Sunday after striking out five and allowing three runs in six

innings. Houston’s bullpen, however, couldn’t hold a 6-3 lead in an

8-6 loss to San Diego.

It was the second time in Myers’ four starts that the Astros’

relievers faltered.

“They go out there and play just as hard as I play,” Myers told

the Astros’ official website. “Things will turn around for us.”

Myers is 3-3 with a 3.21 ERA in eight starts against

Milwaukee.

Braun, the first Brewer to reach base safely in the first 19

games of a season since Paul Molitor did it in 1991, is 4 for 15

off Myers.

Prince Fielder has three home runs in 13 at-bats against

Myers.

Astros second baseman Bill Hall, who tripled and scored Friday

in his first game at Miller Park since Milwaukee traded him to

Seattle in 2009 following seven-plus seasons with the club, hit

three homers off Marcum last season while with Boston.