Sheets Surging

Following a disappointing 2006 season hampered by injuries, staff ace Ben Sheets is enjoying a resurgence with the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers.

Sheets looks to continue his longest winning streak since his rookie season, and end his recent struggles against the Houston Astros when he takes the mound in Monday's series opener.

Oddsmakers have made Milwaukee -170 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 8 total runs (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 78% of bets for this game have been placed on Milwaukee -170 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

Last season, Sheets (8-3, 3.19 ERA) had three stints on the disabled list with right shoulder problems, and finished 6-7 in 17 starts. It was the first time in his career he failed to reach double figures in wins.

He has been outstanding this season, though, helping the first-place Brewers (43-32) build a 7 1/2-game lead over the second-place Chicago Cubs.

Sheets is 7-1 with a 2.59 ERA in 10 starts since May 1, and 4-0 with a 2.14 ERA in his last five outings. The two-time All-Star has not won five consecutive decisions since winning six straight from May 29-June 29, 2001.

He pitched his first complete game since opening day his last time out, allowing two runs, six hits and one walk in Tuesday's 6-2 victory over San Francisco.

"This is what we expect from Benny, to come out and pitch games like this," Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said.

The Brewers had a five-game home winning streak end with Sunday's 4-3, 11-inning loss to Kansas City, but have won Sheets' last five starts at Miller Park. The right-hander is 4-0 with a 2.43 ERA in those games, the longest home win streak of his career.

While Sheets is rolling along this season, he has had little luck against Houston (32-43) lately. The seven-year veteran is 9-8 with a 3.81 ERA in 21 career starts against the Astros - his most victories against any opponent - but he hasn't earned a win over them since 2005.

Sheets is just 1-6 with a 4.89 ERA in nine games against Houston since June 13, 2004, and the Brewers have lost eight of those contests. He pitched well against the Astros on April 20, allowing two runs and seven hits in seven innings, but was denied the victory in the Brewers' 6-5 defeat.

Milwaukee, which has won nine of its last 11 overall, is 4-2 against Houston this season.

Corey Hart hit a solo home run Sunday, extending his career-high hitting streak to 11 games. He's batting .400 (20-for-50) with six homers, 15 RBIs and 15 runs in those games.

Shortstop J.J. Hardy missed his third straight game because of lower back tightness, but is expected to return to the lineup Monday. Hardy is 9-for-25 (.360) with three homers and eight RBIs in six games against the Astros this season.

Houston snapped a three-game skid with Sunday's 12-9, 10-inning victory over Texas, as Craig Biggio drove in the winning run with his 2,996th career hit.

Biggio finished with three hits on Sunday, but is batting only .150 (3-for-20) against Milwaukee this season. He is 12-for-56 (.214) with four homers and two doubles in his career against Sheets.

Jason Jennings (1-1, 3.63) looks to build off his first win of the season when he takes the hill in Monday's series opener.

Jennings gave up five runs and a season-high 11 hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 9-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday for his first victory in seven starts with the Astros.

"I didn't expect to get the first one in June, but it's better late than never," said the right-hander, who pitched for the fifth time after missing 44 games because of tendinitis in his elbow.

Jennings is 2-0 with a 3.47 ERA in four career starts against the Brewers, but has not faced them since 2004.

by: Michael Cash - – Email Us

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