The first two months of the season proved to be a game of lost-and-found between the Brewers and their starting pitching. Quality starts eluded Milwaukee as it battled numerous injuries and scuffled to the bottom of the National League Central.
Midway through June, though, the Brewers have found a rhythm with their rotation, and although still in last place in their division, the team has hope, and that's a start.
Despite dropping two of three over the weekend to the Reds, the Brewers have put together an 8-7 June and are 3-3 on a nine-game road trip heading into a three-game Interleague set with the Astros, starting Tuesday at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros are coming off a successful series against the White Sox, when Houston won three of four. While Houston sits at the bottom of the American League West, the club will look to build off a strong performance at home against Chicago.
Milwaukee has won six of its last nine games, and a consistent month has created a brighter outlook on a season that was quite dim at the end of May.
"Pitching, definitely, is the biggest reason," manager Ron Roenicke said.
Milwaukee matched its season high with six straight quality starts, stretching from the final game of a four-game set with the Phillies, through all three games in Miami and the first two in Cincinnati.
Tuesday's starter, Alfredo Figaro, was fourth in line of that streak, tossing seven shutout innings against the Marlins on Wednesday. He will face an Astros offense that entered Monday 12th in the AL with a .685 OPS and ninth with 71 home runs, despite playing in the hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park.
Figaro will oppose Houston right-hander Jordan Lyles.
The Brewers will lean on solid pitching for the rest of June, as the middle of their lineup took a hit when Ryan Braun was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right hand injury Friday.
Milwaukee has kept its head above water during Braun's absence this week.
"It's unbelievable, and it stems from the pitching," said outfielder Logan Schafer, who has been starting in left field in place of Braun. "It's been so great lately, and I think the entire team is feeding off it."
Even the hitters.
"Absolutely," Schafer said. "There's that team confidence. It's a good feeling."
Brewers: Ramirez to DH in Houston
Third baseman Aramis Ramirez has been playing through a left knee injury at less than 100 percent, but will catch a bit of a break in Houston this week.
After an off-day Monday, Roenicke said he will "try to DH [Ramirez] at least a couple of those days in Houston," to help the struggling slugger get closer to full strength.
Ramirez sprained his knee twice this year sliding into second base, once in Spring Training, and again five games into the regular season. He has not had an extra-base hit in his last nine games.
• First baseman Corey Hart confirmed Sunday that he could be out until after the All-Star break. Hart continues to rehab from late-January knee surgery. He was originally slated to return closer to April.
The primary issue is not Hart's knee but his right quadriceps, which is refusing to "fire" correctly, causing him to struggle with sudden movements.
Astros: Lyles looks to continue tear
Brewers pitchers are not the only ones on a roll, as Lyles has thrown six straight outings allowing two earned runs or fewer.
Lyles is 2-0 in that stretch and has lowered his ERA from 8.36 to 3.48. The right-hander tossed seven innings of scoreless ball against the Mariners on Wednesday.
• This is the first meeting between the Brewers and Astros this season. The Brewers held a slight advantage over the Astros last season with a 9-8 record when they were both in the NL Central.
• Jason Castro knocked in two runs on Monday night. His 10 home runs on the season are the most by an Astros catcher since Mitch Melusky in 2000.
• While the Astros are 26-44, they boast a 11-8 record over their last 19 games.
Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.