MILWAUKEE (AP)—Bill Hall doesn’t mind his role as a utility player and it’s showing at the plate.
Hall had three hits for the third straight game, including a home run, and Damian Miller hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the eighth inning to lead the Milwaukee Brewers to a 4-2 victory over the Houston Astros on Monday night.
“I am embracing being in the lineup, no matter how I get in there,” said Hall, who made his ninth start at third base Monday. He has also started five games at shortstop and two at second base after heading in to the offseason expecting to be the everyday third baseman for Milwaukee. Then the Brewers acquired Corey Koskie, forcing Hall to play any number of positions, including center field, to stay in the lineup.
The plan is working. He is now hitting .348 in 20 games.
“I feel pretty good up there,” Hall said. “It’s fun right now. Everybody on the team is swinging the bat well. We always knew we could get on a roll like this, and, hopefully, here we go.”
The victory, Milwaukee’s sixth in its last seven games, was tempered by the loss of starter Tomo Ohka, who left the game after the fifth inning with a right shoulder cuff strain. Ohka retired 13 straight batters at one point, and gave up two hits and one run before leaving. He will be re-evaluated Tuesday.
Ohka said his shoulder started to bother him in the fourth inning. Brewers manager Ned Yost said he approached Ohka after the fifth, and he said his shoulder was getting tight. Yost immediately decided to go to the bullpen.
“He wanted to go back out,” Yost said. “We didn’t want to take any chances with him.”
Ohka said he thinks he will be OK.
“It is stiff,” he said of the shoulder, which was wrapped in ice after the game. “I will see tomorrow how I feel.”
Milwaukee scored twice in the eighth to break a 2-2 tie.
Dan Wheeler (0-1) took the loss in relief of Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez. Rodriguez gave up two runs, both on solo homers, and seven hits in six innings in his bid to win his fifth straight decision. He struck out four and walked one.
A key defensive play in the eighth may have saved the game for Milwaukee, as Craig Biggio lined a ball into the right-field corner with one out. Geoff Jenkins fielded it cleanly and threw to Rickie Weeks, who made a perfect throw to Hall at third base to get the sliding Biggio.
“Biggio made his mind up. He knew what he wanted to do,” Astros manager Phil Garner said of Biggio. “Most guys get thrown out if people make good throws, and they made two.”
Hall called it “by far the play of the game.”
“The game changes right there if he gets to third and they score a run,” he said. “They can bring in (Brad) Lidge, and we don’t want to face him. We want to keep him on a two-day vacation in Milwaukee.”
Yost said Weeks, maligned for his defense in his young career, had “as good a game as you can play at second base.”
In addition, center fielder Brady Clark made a full-extension diving catch to snag Morgan Ensberg’s sinking liner in the fourth inning. Fielder also made a diving play in the sixth to rob Willy Taveras of an extra-base hit.
Hall also had a homer in the sixth. Hall has nine hits in his last 14 at-bats. Fifteen of his 23 hits this season have gone for extra bases, including six home runs.
“We’re just doing what everybody expected us to do, and what we feel like we can do,” Hall said. “And when it all comes together, we’re a dangerous team. We’re definitely a team to be reckoned with in the National League Central.”
Ohka was impressive early. He retired 13 straight batters after giving up consecutive singles to Craig Biggio and Taveras to start the game.
Carlos Lee, coming off an April in which he hit a team-record 10 home runs, also homered for Milwaukee. Backup Astros catcher Eric Munson homered in the seventh for Houston’s first hit since the first inning.
Brewers LHP Chris Capuano was selected the NL player of the week after throwing a shutout in a 9-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday and working seven strong innings in a 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves. … Jenkins has an eight-game hitting streak. He is 13 for his last 31 (.419).