video thumbnail

PIT@MIL: Estrada strikes out 11 Pirates over 5 2/3

The three-game series between the Astros and Brewers that begins Monday at Miller Park features two National League Central teams that have one eye toward the future.

The Astros are lacking in familiar names after making five July trades that brought 13 prospects, while the Brewers just traded right-hander Zack Greinke and catcher George Kottaras.

Manager Ron Roenicke said that's just something his team has to deal with, as the Brewers try to improve for the future.

"We're not good enough to where I say this is going to kill our team," Roenicke said Sunday. "If we were two games out of first place and we did it, I'd be pretty concerned. But we can't get this thing going.

"To lose Zack is going to hurt you any time, but we also need to think about who we can see for the rest of this season and what's going to happen the next couple years."

The Brewers are 45-56 and in fourth place in the NL Central, 16 games behind first-place Cincinnati after losing to the Nationals, 11-10, in 11 innings on Sunday.

Still, despite the losses of Greinke and Kottaras, Roenicke thinks there is plenty to play for during the final two months of this season.

"I think the hope is still that we can get it going and turn it around, and I certainly think we can play a lot better ball than what we've played with the personnel we have right here," Roenicke said.

After a promising first half of the season, the Astros' season has fallen apart in July.

Houston snapped a franchise-record 12-game losing streak Sunday with a 9-5 victory over the Pirates, but its 35-68 record is the worst in the Majors.

With all the wheeling and dealing the Astros have done recently, no player remains from their 2005 NL Championship team. Right-hander Bud Norris, who will start Monday's opener, is the second-longest tenured player on the team.

Norris made his debut with the Astros on July 29, 2009.

Left-hander Wesley Wright, who has split time between the Astros and the Minor Leagues, made his debut on March 31, 2008.

"It's surreal, almost," Norris said of the departure of many of his former teammates. "I've only been here three years and I've seen a lot in three years."

Norris, who is 5-8 with a 5.05 ERA in 18 starts, has not won a game since May 21.

He is coming off a strong start in his last outing against the Reds, against whom he pitched seven innings and allowed five hits and one run while striking out seven.

Norris did not get a decision in a game the Reds won, 5-3, after scoring three runs in the ninth inning.

"It felt good to come home and pitch like that," Norris said. "I knew I needed to make some adjustments, and I did."

Astros: Moore plays third, gets two hits
• Scott Moore, who started at third base Sunday after Chris Johnson was traded to the D-backs, had a pair of RBI singles in the victory over the Pirates.

Brewers: Estrada gets Monday start
• Right-hander Marco Estrada will be Monday's starter. Estrada has appeared in nine games and made six starts, going 0-4 with a 4.52 ERA.

He pitched four innings and gave up eight hits and five earned runs in a no-decision on Wednesday against the Phillies.

Worth noting
• Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks has had a disappointing season, but he's found a groove recently, with 10 hits in his last 21 at-bats.

Weeks was 1-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs on Sunday against the Nationals, raising his average to .209.

MLB.com Comments