Brewers 6, Astros 1
MILWAUKEE (AP)—Ben Sheets didn’t have his best stuff. Against a tired Astros squad, it didn’t matter.
Sheets flashed a 94 mph fastball, a big curve and kept a groggy group of Astros hitters off balance in winning his fifth consecutive decision in Milwaukee’s 6-1 victory over Houston on Monday night.
“I didn’t think he had his best stuff, but he was certainly good enough,” said Lance Berkman, who had his 11-game hitting streak snapped. “It seemed like we were off a little bit tonight as a team. I don’t know if that had anything to do with the 4 a.m. arrival or not, but our guys were a little sluggish.”
The Astros, who are 2-5 on the last leg of a nine-game road trip, didn’t arrive at the hotel until 4:30 a.m. after finishing up a night game against the Rangers. Astros manager Phil Garner said he was awakened at 8 a.m. by the sounds of a jackhammer in downtown Milwaukee.
“They’re working on the wall right next to my bed,” said a red-eyed Garner.
Home has been especially sweet for the Brewers, who are an NL-best 28-13 at Miller Park and have won 10 of their last 12 games since being no-hit by the Tigers’ Justin Verlander on June 12.
Sheets (9-3) allowed five hits and three walks in six innings while striking out five. He’s allowed three runs or fewer in each of his last 13 starts and has won five straight decisions for the first time since 2001, his rookie year.
But he’s only averaging 4.4 strikeouts per start this season after managing 5.7 over the course of his injury-plagued seven-year career.
“When you don’t strike people out, you’re not dominant in the eyes of everything,” Sheets said. “I’m pitching well, the only thing that matters at the end of the day is limit the runs.”
The two-time All-Star is 4-0 with a 1.66 ERA in five June starts. Fielder and Brewers manager Ned Yost think Sheets should be named to another All-Star team, but Sheets isn’t so sure.
“It ain’t my choice, we’ll see,” Sheets said. “Whatever happens, happens. I’m going to have a good time at the All-Star break either way, whether I’m in the game or at home.”
Fielder, who bought Carlos Lee’s Mercedes-Benz S500 when Lee left for Texas, led off the eighth with a 434-foot shot to deep center field to give Milwaukee a 4-1 lead. It was Fielder’s first home run in a week, and his eighth in June.
Sheets’ lone mistake was to his former teammate when Lee hit his 13th homer over the Brewers’ bullpen to cut Milwaukee’s lead to 3-1 in the sixth.
Lee, who pumped his fist the dugout afterward, was booed loudly as he rounded the bases. He was dealt to Texas last season in a package that included Kevin Mench and Francisco Cordero, and signed a six-year, $100-million contract with Houston in the offseason.
Before Lee’s homer, Sheets had walked three batters, but allowed only one base runner to reach third when counterpart Jason Jennings singled in the second to put runners on first and third with two outs.
Hardy got Sheets out of trouble by bare-handing Mark Loretta’s slow roller and making an accurate throw to first to end the inning.
Yost said he knew Sheets was laboring in the first two innings, throwing 38 pitches, beginning at 86 mph before moving up the radar gun to 94. But Yost said he couldn’t worry.
“He made big pitches when he needed to and got out of it,” Yost said. “He did that all night long.”
Hardy returned to the lineup after missing the previous three games with stiffness in his lower back and hit a solo home run in the first, his 18th homer this season, but only his third in June.
Jennings, who has missed a majority of the season with elbow tendinitis, loaded the bases in the seventh, but got out of it to end his night. He allowed five hits, four walks and struck out five.
“Winning is always fun,” Braun said. “As long as we’re winning, we’re definitely having fun. The biggest thing is just everybody contributing.”
Brewers minor league LHP Manny Parra, assigned to Triple-A Nashville, threw a perfect game with 11 strikeouts in a 3-0 win at Round Rock on Monday night. … Astros 2B Craig Biggio, with 2,996 hits, was not in the lineup Monday. He’s also expected to sit on Wednesday. … The Brewers signed LF Matt LaPorta, selected seventh overall in the amateur draft. LaPorta took batting practice before the game. … When asked about his shaky bullpen situation, Garner said his closer was Dan Wheeler and his setup man was “et al.”