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MIL@CIN: Gallardo shuts out Reds over six innings

The Astros have made the most of their seven-game homestand and have used some pop from their bats and good starting pitching to do it.

Houston has won four of its last six and will look to take two of three from the Brewers with a win Thursday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros have hit five home runs and eight other extra-base hits over their last five games. Prior to Saturday, Houston had gone eight games without a home run. It went 2-6 during that stretch.

"Well, we knew this team had some pop back in Spring Training. We set out to put guys in the lineup who could change the game with one swing," Houston manager Bo Porter said. "Up and down our lineup, you're seeing we have several guys who can hurt you around the fences."

Yovani Gallardo will take the hill for Milwaukee against Lucas Harrell, who is 2-1 with a 2.39 ERA in his last four outings. Harrell is 0-1 with a 4.35 ERA career against the Brewers, allowing five runs and eight hits in 10 1/3 innings in two starts when the Astros were still Milwaukee's National League Central rivals.

Gallardo is 6-6 with a 4.41 ERA this season and after dropping four straight decisions in May, he's bounced back to win three of his last four starts. He tossed eight scoreless innings last week against Miami, and led the Brewers to their first shutout of the season by throwing six scoreless Saturday against the Reds.

"The last game [in Miami] was a little different than this game. He threw a lot of pitches early today," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said after the win. "But he's still putting up zeros. The guy makes big pitches when he needs to."

Astros: Dominguez heating up
One major contributor to the Astros' recent power surge has been third baseman Matt Dominguez. He has 10 home runs and 40 RBIs this season and has eight RBIs over the last four games, lining a three-run double on Sunday and collecting his first career grand slam on Tuesday.

"There are a lot of guys in this game that thrive in RBI situations. Matt's starting to prove he's one of them. He finds a way to get those ducks on the pond in," Porter said. "A lot of people look at his batting average and move on. To me, it's about production and if you're stopping teams [on defense] to prevent runs and driving them in, you're doing a great job."

Brewers: Prince makes first Major League start
Brewers utility man Josh Prince went 0-for-3 with a run in his first big league start Wednesday. Norichika Aoki went back to Milwaukee and was placed on the paternity leave list because his wife, Sachi, showed signs of early labor.

Aoki must miss at least one game and as many as three, but he's expected to be back in the Brewers lineup Friday.

Prince arrived at Minute Maid Park 20 minutes before the Brewers began stretching for batting practice after getting the callup early Wednesday morning. He received a text during a layover at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport saying he was in line to start his first Major League game.

Prince had one hit in five at-bats with the Brewers earlier this season.

Worth noting
• Gallardo is 13-3 career against the Astros, his most wins against any team. Current Astros are hitting .195 with a .582 OPS against him.

• The Astros signed No. 1 overall Draft pick Mark Appel Wednesday.

• The Astros are 17-16 since May 15, and their starting pitchers had the second best ERA (3.06) in the American League during that time entering Wednesday. Comments