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HOU@PIT: Norris strikes out eight over six scoreless

The Brewers and Astros couldn't have been farther apart in the National League Central standings at the end of last year, with Milwaukee crowned the champion and Houston finishing 40 games back in the last-place spot of the six-team division.

But 36 games into the 2012 season, both teams find themselves treading the same waters.

Following Houston's 4-3 loss to the Phillies in 10 innings on Tuesday afternoon, the Astros sat at 15-21 -- just a game behind the Brewers in the NL Central standings. The Brewers wrapped up a two-game series with an 8-0 victory over the Mets on Tuesday night, splitting the set.

The two clubs will have the opportunity to create some separation in a two-game series starting on Wednesday at Minute Maid Park in Houston. The two teams met once already this season on April 23-25, when the Brewers won two of three.

Randy Wolf gets the ball for the Brewers in the series opener, after his last outing got lost in the wash of a 13-inning win against the Cubs. But he threw arguably his best outing of the year -- despite surrendering three walks -- in going six scoreless innings.

He'll be opposed by Houston right-hander Bud Norris, who was superb in his last outing, as well. In a 1-0 win against the Pirates, Norris struck out eight in six frames.

"That was a great team win, and Bud obviously did a great job of keeping them down all game and really getting out of some big spots," shortstop Jed Lowrie said afterward. "They had some opportunities to score and Bud made pitches when he needed to."

Norris escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth to earn his third win of the year and has allowed just three runs over 18 2/3 in his past three outings.

The Brewers currently rank eighth in the NL in runs scored, but manager Ron Roenicke conceded that does not tell the whole story of how their season has unfolded so far.

"Scoring runs is a little misleading," Roenicke said. "What are you scoring per game? Not the average, but what are you consistently scoring? If you score 12 and then you score one, you're not going to be very good. If we score four, five a game, we're going to win a lot of games."

Roenicke's team has scored two or fewer runs 12 times in the first 36 games.

Brewers: Injury updates
• Outfielder Carlos Gomez is expected to begin a rehab assignment with Class A Wisconsin on Wednesday as it hosts the Burlington Bees. Gomez, who has worked out with the Minor League club the past two days, is on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring.

• Shortstop Alex Gonzalez, on the 15-day DL with a torn ACL in his right knee, is scheduled to have surgery on Thursday in Milwaukee, performed by Dr. William Raasch.

Astros: Numbers don't add up
• The Astros have outscored opponents, 147-146, this season, but have just a 15-21 record to show for it. Entering Tuesday, the club's run differential ranked sixth in the National League.

• Right-hander Wilton Lopez has faced 76 batters through 21 2/3 innings this seasons without issuing a walk. It is currently the longest stretch by a reliever to start a season since 2004, when John Smoltz went 93 batters before walking a hitter.

Worth noting
• The Astros were 6-3 on their last homestand and are 10-8 overall at Minute Maid Park. Comments