Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Houston Astros (35-70) at Milwaukee Brewers (47-56), 2:10 pm (ET) -

Right-hander Michael Fiers can continue a solid start to his major-league career today when the Milwaukee Brewers go for a sweep in the finale of a three-game series against the visiting Houston Astros at Miller Park.

The 27-year-old Florida native has started 10 times in 11 overall assignments this season after pitching two innings in two relief outings at the tail end of the 2011 season.

He improved to 4-4 this season and lowered his earned run average to a stingy 1.77 in his last outing, a 6 1/3-inning effort against Washington in which he allowed four hits and struck out nine in a 6-0 Milwaukee win.

Fiers has given up two runs or less in each of his last eight outings, including five in which he's given up zero earned runs.

In that stretch, the Brewers are just 4-4, having scored three runs or less four times.

Fier has never faced the Astros.

Milwaukee won game two of the series on Tuesday, when Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez both hit three-run homers in a 10-1 win.

Ramirez finished 3-for-4 with four RBI and Nyjer Morgan knocked in two runs with a pinch-hit single in the eighth inning for the Brewers, winners in three of five.

"That's what I'm here for," Ramirez said. " I'm here to drive in runs and I've been doing that lately."

Yovani Gallardo (9-8) earned the win after allowing just one run on three hits and striking out five over seven frames.

"It was a nice ball game, (Gallardo) was really good," Brewers manager Rob Roenicke said. "Great offense today. (Gallardo) wanted to go another inning, but I was iffy either war. His stuff was really good but his command was a little off."

Chris Snyder homered for Houston, which is 2-17 since the All-Star break.

Dallas Kuechel (1-4) was pegged with the loss after giving up seven runs on seven hits over just four-plus innings. Kuechel walked a career-high six and struck out just one.

"What was tough for us was (Kuechel's) command," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "Six walks is tough, and so was getting behind in the count. We have to readdress those issues."

Houston starts the finale with 21-year-old righty Jordan Lyles, who makes his sixth try at a first win since June 26.

The North Carolina native was 2-4 on the season after allowing a run in 6 1/3 innings of a 5-3 defeat of San Diego, which lowered his ERA from 5.04 to 4.59.

He's 0-3 in five starts since, including losses at Pittsburgh, San Diego and Arizona while allowing 43 hits and 26 runs in 28 2/3 innings.

Lyles is 0-1 in three career appearances against the Brewers and got a no- decision against them on July 8 after giving up two runs on seven innings in Milwaukee's 5-3 win.

Entering this series, the teams had split eight meetings thus far in 2012, with Milwaukee winning two of three in April, the Astros sweeping a two-game series in May and the Brewers winning two of three in July.

The Brewers won the season series in 2011, 12 games to three.

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