Astros-Brewers Preview

Ryan Braun will likely play a major role in the Milwaukee

Brewers re-establishing their home success against the Houston

Astros.

A better effort on the mound should also help.

The Brewers will attempt to move back above .500 in the finale

of a three-game series with the Astros on Sunday.

Braun is among the best hitters in baseball with a .384 average,

seven homers,18 RBIs and 16 walks while compiling a .489 on-base

and .712 slugging percentage. He’s also the first Brewer to reach

base safely in 20 consecutive games.

Braun is 5 for 9 with two homers and six RBIs in this series

after signing a $105 million, five-year contract extension on

Thursday.

Recognized as the face of the franchise, Braun had a homer and

three RBIs Saturday, but Milwaukee fell 9-6 in 10 innings to

Houston (8-13) after winning 14-7 the previous night.

The Brewers (10-10) have won 10 of the last 14 from the Astros

at Miller Park behind a .311 average and 18 homers.

Braun is hitting .398 with 14 home runs and 37 RBIs over the

last 30 meetings there, and his 20 homers and 58 RBIs against

Houston are his highest totals against any club.

While Braun is spurring the offense, the Brewers would like to

see some improvement from their staff as it’s posted a 7.58 ERA in

two games against Houston.

Sending Randy Wolf (2-2, 3.18 ERA) to the mound on Sunday may be

just what they need.

The left-hander has tossed 12 2-3 scoreless innings in winning

his last two starts, yielding just five hits while striking out 15.

He outpitched reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay on

Tuesday, allowing two hits in six innings of a 9-0 victory at

Philadelphia.

“I tried to mix speeds a lot and I think I kept them off

balance,” said Wolf, who went 2-0 with a 1.37 ERA in three starts

versus Houston last year, and won both games in Milwaukee while

surrendering just two runs in 13 2-3 innings.

Wandy Rodriguez (1-2, 5.48) takes the mound for Houston looking

to put together consecutive strong outings for the first time this

season.

The left-hander has been erratic through four games, alternating

quality starts with poor ones. However, he appears to be in good

position to break that trend against the Brewers.

Rodriguez went 2-0 with a 0.84 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 21 1-3

innings over three starts against Milwaukee last season.

He had his best performance of the season Tuesday, allowing one

run and three hits while fanning seven in seven innings of a 6-1

win over New York.

“The biggest thing is to keep his rhythm, not to let him work

too slow,” catcher J.R. Towles told the team’s official website.

“He’s one of those guys that needs to work fast. When he’s able to

do that, it keeps him loose. His best games have been when he has

worked fast.”

Braun has hit three homers and is batting .360 against

Rodriguez.