Brewers lose game 5-4, fall behind Cubs in NL Central

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HOUSTON (AP)—Hunter Pence lost his breath on one hit and won the game with another.

An inning after crashing into the right-field wall, Pence singled home the winning run in the 10th and the Houston Astros beat Milwaukee 5-4 Wednesday night, dropping the Brewers one game behind Chicago in the NL Central.

Rickie Weeks hit a two-run homer in the ninth off Astros closer Brad Lidge to force extra innings. But the Brewers, who had won four in a row, wound up losing ground to Chicago in the division race—the Cubs beat Cincinnati 3-2.

“Any time you lose a game, it’s tough to watch,” said Milwaukee starter Dave Bush, who pitched six innings. “There’s a lot more at stake now, so it’s even tougher.”

Milwaukee opens a four-game series in Atlanta on Thursday night. The Cubs are idle, the host Pittsburgh over the weekend.

“We’ve played two less games (than the Cubs), so we’ve got to win a significant number of games down the stretch,” Bush said. “Every game’s important. Obviously, we’d like to win them all.”

Carlos Lee homered and hit an RBI single for the Astros, who won for just the fifth time in 18 games against Milwaukee this year.

Weeks homered with one out, tying it at 4. Pence slammed into the wall chasing the drive and crumpled to the ground. He got up after a few minutes and stayed in the game.

“It just kind of knocked the wind out of me, a little whiplash, kind of a car wreck,” Pence said. “I just couldn’t move there for a second. But once I caught my breath, I was fine.”

Lidge (5-2) pitched a perfect 10th, striking out two, and got the victory.

Orlando Palmeiro pinch-hit for Lidge and drew a leadoff walk from Matt Wise (3-2) to start the 10th. Pitcher Brandon Backe pinch-ran for Palmeiro, went to second on Lance Berkman’s single and dashed for third on Lee’s fly out to center.

Pence batted next, after convincing Houston manager Cecil Cooper he was OK from the collision.

“I was close to taking him out,” Cooper said.

Pence fouled off the first 3-2 pitch he saw from Wise, then lined the next one into left field to bring home Backe.

Prince Fielder hit his 47th homer for Milwaukee, stretching his hitting streak to 17 games.

Milwaukee led 2-1 when Mark Loretta tied the game in the seventh with a two-out, RBI single off Brian Shouse.

Josh Anderson, one of five rookies in the Astros lineup, led off the eighth with a single and went to second on Craig Biggio’s bunt. Shouse intentionally walked Lance Berkman and Milwaukee manager Ned Yost called in Derrick Turnbow to relieve.

Lee then singled to left to score Anderson and Pence followed with a sacrifice fly, scoring Berkman to make it 4-2.

Lidge struck out Craig Counsell, but J.J. Hardy doubled. Weeks, who snapped an 0-for-16 slump with a homer on Tuesday, then drove a 3-2 pitch into the right-field seats.

“You just try to get ahead in the count and hope he comes with a fastball,” Weeks said. “I got a fastball, and I just tried to hit it hard.”

Juan Gutierrez, a 23-year-old rookie, made his second major league start for Houston. Just like rookie Felipe Paulino on Tuesday night, Gutierrez ran into his trouble in the fourth inning.

Fielder launched the first pitch into the balcony in left center. Corey Hart then doubled off the left-field wall, went to third on Gabe Gross’ fly out and came home on Johnny Estrada’s sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.

Lee hit a towering homer to left off Bush in the Astros’ fourth, his 30th of the season.

Scott Linebrink relieved Bush for the Houston seventh and Ty Wigginton started Houston’s comeback by beating out a grounder that Counsell had to backhand at third base.

Wigginton went to second on a wild pitch and Linebrink walked Cody Ransom. Yost brought in the left-handed Shouse, but Loretta singled to right to score Wigginton.

Notes

The Brewers lead the majors with 215 homers. They’re one shy of the team record, set in 1982. … Lee and Berkman both have 30 homers this year, the fifth time in team history two Astros have hit that many in the same season. … Biggio singled in the first inning, career hit No. 3,052. He’s one away from tying Rod Carew for 21st all-time.

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