Cooper predicts sweep in Milwaukee

Cooper predicts sweep in Milwaukee

HOUSTON -- Despite two ugly losses in the Astros' series against the D-backs, manager Cecil Cooper continues to challenge his team.

First, he said Houston would win 88 games to end the season, then upped it to 90 earlier this past week.

Now, Cooper predicts the Astros will sweep the Brewers in their next series in Milwaukee.

In response to a reporter saying that the Astros could sweep the Brewers, Cooper said, "I'm predicting that, I'm going out on a limb. You heard it here first."

The Brewers are in second place in the National League Central, 5 1/2 games behind the Cubs.

Cooper's idea is not too tall an order, considering the Astros took two of three from the Brewers their last time in Milwaukee, facing Jeff Suppan, Dave Bush and Manny Parra.

But Houston will face the Brewers' top starters, CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets, this time around.

"We didn't face those top two last time," Cooper said. "They had the Cubs coming, so I think they looked past us a little bit and then the Cubs swept them. It will be interesting to see Sabathia. We saw him in Spring Training, but not in-season."

If the Astros are to meet Cooper's expectations for the 90-win finish, they will have to go 28-11 to end the season on Sept. 28. If that happens, Houston could win the Wild Card.

But the Brewers will make a tough case. They are 36-23 at home this season and the series is tied between the two teams so far, and each has a sweep.

Houston ended a 10-game winning streak with two losses to the D-backs this weekend. The Astros are 13 games behind first and 7 1/2 games out of the Wild Card spot.

Pitching matchup
HOU: LHP Randy Wolf (8-10, 4.56 ERA)
Wolf had his best outing of the four he's made since his trade to Houston in his last start against the Giants. The veteran left-hander no-hit the Giants through four innings and cruised to the win after allowing two runs over seven innings. Wolf made his Astros debut against the Brewers in Milwaukee on July 27, when he took a no-decision after yielding four runs (three earned) over 4 1/3 innings. The Astros are 4-0 in games he's started.

MIL: LHP CC Sabathia (13-8, 3.04 ERA)
Sabathia calls his current run of success "pretty good." If this is pretty good, his new teammates would love to see what else he has in store. Sabathia has won 10 straight decisions dating to his final days with the Cleveland Indians, and is 7-0 with a 1.55 ERA in eight Brewers starts since his July 7 trade to Milwaukee. He had to work a bit against the Padres on Wednesday, but still managed to pitch seven innings while allowing only one run on nine hits. He pitched a five-hit shutout against the Nationals in his last start at Miller Park.

Tidbits
Cooper switched up the starting rotation a bit with the off-day on Thursday. Every pitcher will get an extra day of rest except Roy Oswalt, who will stay on his five-day schedule to pitch on Friday in the opener at the Mets. Brandon Backe will follow him, pitching Saturday, followed by Wolf, Brian Moehler and Wandy Rodriguez, who will open the homestand against Cincinnati. ... Cooper said he is done predicting scores for games following his incorrect assumption of Saturday's final score. Cooper had told Drayton McLane that Backe would go seven innings while giving up one run, and that the Astros would score four by the time he came out. Instead, the Astros were down 7-1 in the fifth, and 11-1 in the top of the seventh.

Tickets
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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSN-HD, ESPN2

On radio
• KTRH 740, KLAT 1010 (Español)

Up next
• Tuesday: Astros (Brian Moehler, 8-4, 3.97) at Brewers (Ben Sheets, 11-6, 3.00), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Wednesday: Astros (Wandy Rodriguez, 7-5, 4.15) at Brewers (Manny Parra, 9-6, 4.12), 1:05 p.m. CT
• Thursday: Off-day

Krysten Oliphant is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.