Right-hander Marco Estrada takes his 18th shot at a first win of 2012 tonight when his Milwaukee Brewers host the Houston Astros in the opener of a three-game series at Miller Park.
A 29-year-old Mexican, Estrada has made 11 starts and six relief outings while pitching 67 2/3 innings in his third season with the Brewers since he was claimed off waivers from the Washington Nationals in 2010.
He started once and relieved six times with Milwaukee in 2010, then started seven times among 43 appearances last season before working his way into an injury-riddled rotation this year.
Estrada's last decision came after a tough-luck seven innings at Cincinnati on July 20, when he allowed three runs and struck out five en route to a 3-1 loss to the Reds.
In one outing since, he was touched for five runs in eight hits in four innings of Milwaukee's 7-6 loss at Philadelphia in July 25.
Estrada has a 3.52 earned run average in six meetings - all in relief - against the Astros across 7 2/3 innings.
The Brewers are 5-12 in games he's pitched.
Houston counters with righty Bud Norris, who's not won since May 21.
The California-born 27-year-old was winless for the ninth straight start against the Reds on July 25 after allowing just a run on five hits in seven innings of Houston's 5-3 loss.
He defeated the Chicago Cubs with seven innings of scoreless ball for his last win and is 0-7 since while his ERA has swelled from 3.14 to 5.05.
In nine career starts against Milwaukee, Norris is 4-3 with a 4.50 ERA.
On Sunday in Houston, Jordan Schafer drove in three runs and the Astros ended a 12-game losing streak, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-5.
Schafer delivered the go-ahead home run for the Astros, who avoided a four- game sweep.
Lucas Harrell (8-7) tossed another strong outing for Houston, giving up two runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings. The rookie has a 1.86 earned run average in four starts since the All-Star break.
In Milwaukee, Michael Morse clubbed a game-tying, two-run homer in the ninth to send the game to extras, and then ripped a go-ahead two-run double in the 11th as the Nationals took a thrilling 11-10 victory over the Brewers in the finale of a four-game set.
Rickie Weeks belted a two-run shot and Hart finished with four hits and scored three times for the Brewers, who lost for the ninth time in their last 10 games.
Mark Rogers made his first start in nearly two years for the Brewers after being recalled from Triple-A Nashville to start for Zack Greinke, who was shipped to the Los Angeles Angels on Friday.
The teams have 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.