The Astros (10-13) had lost seven straight games before breaking out of their funk with a 10-1 win on Saturday. Houston’s season-high run total was also only one shy of its output from the previous five games combined.
The Astros hadn’t scored 10 runs or more since Sept. 9 of last season.
Houston, which had stranded 38 baserunners in its previous three games, left only three on base. First baseman Lance Berkman went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs, improving his lifetime average against Milwaukee to .340 (122-for-359).
“We needed to have a game like this,” said Berkman, who has reached base safely either by hit or walk in 17 consecutive games. “We’re not where we need to be, but it gives you something to draw on.”
The addition of one of the club’s top prospects also helped the Astros’ cause. Houston called up Hunter Pence to try to get an offensive spark, and the outfielder reached base twice and scored a run in his major league debut.
“We want to continue to push, push hard,” manager Phil Garner said. “We had some good at-bats tonight. I hope that’s something that carries through and the players continue to feel good about it.”
For the Brewers (14-9), Saturday’s loss was only their third in 10 games. They lead Pittsburgh by 2 1/2 games atop the NL Central, and are just one game behind Atlanta for the best record in the league.
“We focus on the day-to-day,” manager Ned Yost told the team’s official Web site. “Your focus remains small this time of year. April, May, June, July - the standings don’t matter. They matter in September and October.”
Geoff Jenkins drove in Milwaukee’s only run with a single in the fourth inning. Jenkins is batting .303 (50-for-165) in his career at Minute Maid Park, but Milwaukee is just 12-30 in those games.
Overall, the Brewers are 16-40 at Minute Maid Park, where they have lost 18 of their last 22.
Dave Bush gave up eight runs and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings, suffering the first loss for a Milwaukee starter in the team’s last 12 games. Before Saturday, the Brewers’ starting rotation had been 7-0 with a 3.06 ERA since April 16.
Claudio Vargas (1-0, 4.76 ERA) hopes to return to that form on Sunday. The Brewers have won each of the right-hander’s last three starts, but Vargas allowed four runs in four innings and did not receive a decision in his last outing, a 5-4, 12-inning win over the Chicago Cubs on Monday.
Vargas went 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in two starts against the Astros last year.
For Houston, Woody Williams (0-3, 5.90) will take the mound in search of his first win since signing with his hometown Astros last winter. He allowed three runs in seven innings to suffer the loss in a 3-0 defeat at Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
Williams is 12-5 with a 2.98 ERA in 27 career outings - 18 starts - against the Brewers, but hasn’t faced them since 2005.