Right-hander Yovani Gallardo can continue a stellar career's worth of work against the Houston Astros tonight when the Milwaukee Brewers visit them in the opener of a three-game series at Minute Maid Park.
Gallardo, a 26-year-old chosen in the second round by the Brewers in the 2004 draft, has won 10 of 12 decisions against Houston while allowing the Astros just a .232 combined batting average across 80 innings of work.
He faced them twice in a week-long stretch midway through last season and emerged with two wins, allowing eight hits and two runs in 15 innings while winning, 6-2 and 8-1, on July 30 and Aug. 5, respectively.
He earned his most recent victory of 2012 on June 20 against interleague foe Toronto, scattering seven hits and allowing three runs in 6 2/3 innings of an 8-3 triumph in Milwaukee.
In two starts since, a loss at Cincinnati and a no-decision against Arizona, he's given up seven hits and two runs in 12 2/3 innings.
On Thursday in Milwaukee, Carlos Lee went 2-for-4 with a run scored in his Marlins debut, Mark Buehrle tossed 7 2/3 scoreless innings and Miami took down the Brewers, 4-0, in the finale of a four-game series.
Mike Fiers (3-3) allowed two runs on seven hits over 7 1/3 innings for the Brewers, who went 4-3 on a seven-game homestand. The right-hander, who struck out nine, had tossed 18 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings coming into Thursday's contest.
"I knew it was going to be a low-scoring game," Fiers said. "I tried to keep it as close as possible."
In Pittsburgh, Jeff Karstens pitched eight shutout innings and the Pirates completed a four-game sweep of the Astros with a 2-0 victory.
They also sent the Astros to their eighth loss in a row overall and 10th straight on the road. It's Houston's first 10-game skid on the road since an 11-game losing streak from April 16-May 8, 2005.
Bud Norris (5-6) gave up five hits and the two runs over seven innings. He also had six strikeouts, but dropped his fifth consecutive start.
The Astros try to stop the bleeding with righty J.A. Happ, who was an impressive winner over the Brewers the last time the teams met.
The 29-year-old Illinois native allowed seven hits over six scoreless innings in a 4-0 triumph on May 17 in Houston, walking a batter and striking out three for a victory that lifted him to 3-3 in the season.
He won his next start to inch above .500, but dropped five of the next seven, including a 3-2 verdict against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in his last outing on June 30.
Happ, who is 3-2 lifetime against Milwaukee, is 6-4 in 10 home starts this season.
The Astros have won three of five meetings between the teams in 2012, including a sweep of a two-game set at Houston on May 16-17. The Astros dropped the season series, 12-3, last year and last won it in 2010 when they took eight of 15 games.