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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, September 4th (All times Eastern)

Milwaukee Brewers (83-57) at Houston Astros (47-92), 2:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Milwaukee - Shaun Marcum (11-5, 3.24) Houston - Wandy Rodriguez (10-9, 3.43)

(Sports Network) - The Brewers will try to finish off a weekend sweep of the Houston Astros prior to a series that could cement the NL Central for Milwaukee.

The Brewers, who have won 8-2 in each of the first two contests of this set, hold an 8 1/2-game lead on the Cardinals in the division. They play at St. Louis for three straight, starting Labor Day afternoon.

Milwaukee righty Shaun Marcum will try to snap a personal two-game skid, although he's pitched well in defeat both times to the Pirates and Cardinals. His problem has been getting offensive support, which totals one Milwaukee run over the past two contests. On Tuesday, the Brewers lost 2-1 to St. Louis, but Marcum allowed four hits and two unearned runs over seven innings.

Marcum is 1-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two career games against Houston. He threw seven shutout innings in a 5-0 Milwaukee win at Minute Maid Park on April 29.

Unbeaten in his last three starts (2-0), Wandy Rodriguez takes the mound today for the Astros. The left-hander is coming off a 7-4 win against the Pirates. In that game on Monday, he gave up four hits and three runs, while fanning a career-best 13 hitters over seven innings to get to double-digit wins for the third straight season.

Rodriguez sports a 7-7 mark with a 3.75 ERA in 20 games (19 starts) over his career against Milwaukee. He has pitched well against the Brewers over the last two seasons, as evidenced by a 2-1 mark with a 1.49 ERA in five starts.

Yesterday, George Kottaras hit for the seventh cycle in Brewers history, as Milwaukee took the six-run win.

After flying out in the second, Kottaras hit a solo home run in the fourth, a triple in the sixth, an RBI single in the seventh and a ground-rule double in the ninth. He became the first Brewer to hit for the cycle since Jody Gerut turned the trick on May 8, 2010 at Arizona.

"Sometimes you do things and it works out well," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of putting Kottaras in the lineup.

Prince Fielder drove in two and Craig Counsell hit a two-run homer for the NL Central-leading Brewers, who have won both games of this series after being swept in a three-game set against St. Louis.

Chris Narveson (10-6) went five innings in the start and gave up two runs on four hits with four walks and four strikeouts. He is 4-0 in his past seven starts.

Carlos Lee hit a two-run homer for the Astros, who had won four straight coming into the series. Bud Norris (6-9) was tagged with the loss for giving up six runs -- five earned -- on nine hits over 5 1/3 innings.

"I'm doing good, seeing the ball good," said Lee, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games. "I just take it one day at a time."

The Brewers have won eight straight versus the Astros and 11 of the 14 overall meetings this year.

09/04 10:45:48 ET

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