Shaun Marcum's transition from the American to the National League with the Brewers last season seemed near flawless, at least when facing the Astros.
Marcum will look to build on his outstanding numbers against Houston and extend Milwaukee's recent domination of this series this afternoon in the finale of a three-game set.
Marcum spent the first five years of his big league career with the Blue Jays before getting dealt to the Brewers on Dec. 6, 2010 in exchange for third baseman Brett Lawrie. The right-hander went on to make a career-high 33 starts with Milwaukee last season, including his first three ever against the Astros.
Marcum shined in those outings, going 2-0 with a 1.80 earned run average. He threw seven scoreless innings in both wins, yielding a combined four hits and three walks while striking out 14.
The 30-year-old split his first two starts of this season, but did not factor into the decision of a 4-3 loss to the Rockies on Friday in his first home outing of 2012. Marcum allowed three runs on eight hits with two walks over six innings, fanning five.
Marcum will try to extend the Brewers' 11-game winning streak over the Astros, a run that Milwaukee extended last night with a 9-6 win. The Brewers pounded out 13 hits, getting home runs from Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, Travis Ishikawa and Carlos Gomez, while Alex Gonzalez and Nyjer Morgan added three hits each.
"Offensively a lot of guys contributed. It was late, but it was nice to see," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.
The offensive explosion allowed Randy Wolf to get in the win column for the first time this season after the lefty allowed two runs on four hits and four walks over six innings. John Axford finished things off with his fourth save of the season and 47th in a row dating back to last season, tying Brad Lidge for the fourth longest streak in MLB history.
Milwaukee moved to 5-3 on a nine-game homestand and hasn't lost to the Astros since May 1, 2011. The Brewers have also won six straight and 10 of their last 11 at home versus Houston.
Bud Norris was tagged for seven runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings for the Astros, who have dropped eight of their last 10.
"They got seven runs off [Norris] off the long ball. Other than that he pitched well," Astros manager Brad Mills said of his starter.
Jose Altuve went 2-for-4 with a solo homer in defeat, while Jordan Schafer went 1-for-4 and has reached base safely in all 18 games this season. That is the longest streak for Houston since Ricky Gutierrez's 23-game run in 1998.
Getting the start for the Astros is 29-year-old J.A. Happ, who has thrown three quality starts to begin the season but is coming off a loss to the Dodgers on Friday. He was touched for three runs on eight hits with four walks, falling to 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA on the season.
"I felt fine. I just think that I wasn't quite as sharp as maybe the first two [starts]," said Happ. "I wasn't missing by much, that's for sure. And they battled, too. They had good at-bats."
The left-hander is 2-2 with a 6.08 ERA in six career meetings with the Astros, including five starts.