(Sports Network) - Two teams in the middle of the National League's Central Division square off tonight when the Milwaukee Brewers host the Houston Astros to begin a three-game series at Miller Park.
Milwaukee enters the series in third place in the division, 11 games behind the front-running Cincinnati Reds and a dozen back of the wild card-leading San Francisco Giants.
Houston is one spot further back in fourth, trailing the Reds by 13 games and the Giants by 14, in spite of a recently hot stretch that's seen it win eight of 10.
Streaking Dominican lefty Wandy Rodriguez takes the mound for Houston with the chance to reach double-digit victories for the third time in six big-league seasons with the Astros. The 31-year-old was a 10-game winner as a rookie in 2005, then won nine games in three straight years before breaking out with a career-best 14 wins in 33 starts last season.
He was just 3-10 this year after an interleague loss to Texas on June 18, but has since bounced back to win six of seven starts, including a 5-1 win at Milwaukee on June 30 and a 6-0 downing of the Brewers in Houston on July 31.
The last win raised his lifetime mark against Milwaukee to 7-6.
Rodriguez has not given up a run in his last two outings. He defeated Cincinnati with seven innings of one-hit ball on July 25, then followed up with the eight scoreless innings of five-hit ball against the Brewers.
For the hosts, 30-year-old Dave Bush gets his third straight crack at Rodriguez. Bush was on the short end of both the June 30 and July 31 matchups with the Astros while combining to allow 15 hits and eight runs in 11 innings.
He's 6-3 lifetime against Houston, though, with a 3.65 earned run average in 91 1/3 innings.
One start before his most recent loss to Rodriguez, Bush tossed six innings and allowed three runs in an 8-3 defeat of Washington on July 25.
He is 3-4 in 11 home starts in 2010.
On Wednesday in Chicago, Aramis Ramirez, Geovany Soto and Blake DeWitt each hit three-run homers as the Cubs crushed the Brewers, 15-3, to avoid getting swept.
Milwaukee starter Manny Parra (3-9) allowed six runs on six hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings. He also struck out eight, but lost his fourth consecutive decision.
Jim Edmonds went 2-for-3 for the Brewers.
In St. Louis, Chris Carpenter worked 7 1/3 innings and Albert Pujols went 3- for-5 with a three-run home run to help the Cardinals to an 8-4 win over the Astros in the finale of a three-game set.
The Cardinals had dropped the first two games of the set while giving up 27 runs.
J.A. Happ (2-1) lasted just one-plus innings in the start as he was tagged for seven runs on six hits with three walks for the Astros, who had a season-high seven-game winning streak snapped.
Chris Johnson belted a two-run homer.
Houston has won six of its nine meetings with the Brewers this season.