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Pena's homer in 10th lifts Astros

The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- In a fitting turn of events, a defensive miscue cost the Milwaukee Brewers dearly and paved the way for the Houston Astros to wipe the slate clean of the mistakes that created an early deficit on Thursday afternoon.

First baseman Carlos Pena crushed the first pitch he saw from Michael Gonzalez into the upper deck in right field in the 10th inning, giving Houston a 7-4 victory at Minute Maid Park.

While Pena struck the biggest blow with his eighth homer of the season, it was Carlos Corporan who started the inning by scurrying to first base after his strikeout on a wild pitch by Gonzalez (0-3).

"I was just trying to do something, just trying to get on base because we have a lot of guys that can change the game with just one swing," Corporan said. "And that's what we did. I just tried to keep the inning alive."

Sloppy play marred solid pitching from both starters. Astros right-hander Lucas Harrell was forced to face two additional batters in the top of the second inning after fielding errors from second baseman Jose Altuve and center fielder Justin Maxwell.

Altuve muffed a routine ground ball from Scooter Gennett that, instead of resulting in the third out, allowed Aramis Ramirez to score from third base. Maxwell then dropped a fly ball off the bat from Caleb Gindl, a three-base error that pushed Yuniesky Betancourt and Gennett home.

Maxwell appeared to brace for the wall in left-center field as the ball approached his glove, flinching just prior to making a clean catch.

The Brewers (29-42) returned the favor in the fifth and sixth as a Jonathan Lucroy passed ball put the Astros (28-46) in position to score both Maxwell and Matt Dominguez on fielder's choice ground balls.

"That was a bad game for us ... in all areas," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Defensively, we gave them a couple of runs early, and we didn't do the job offensively when we had guys on third base (Milwaukee finished 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position).

"Pitching was OK. You go long enough in a game and somebody is going to give us something. But that was a bad game. We didn't do a lot of things right in all areas."

An inning later, after Lucroy reclaimed the Milwaukee lead with a home run off Harrell, J.D. Martinez reached on a Gennett error and scored when Dominguez doubled off right-hander Yovani Gallardo.

The unearned run was doubly offensive because center fielder Carlos Gomez overshot the cutoff man and allowed Martinez to score with ease.

Gallardo allowed five hits and three runs -- all unearned -- while walking two and striking out six in seven innings.

"That is how this game is," Gallardo said. "I know for a fact the guys behind me don't want to make errors. They want to get every out they can. That is just how it is. As a pitcher, you have to move past it, whether it's an error or a misplayed ball. You have to focus on the next guy."

The Astros finally mustered an earned run of their own when Corporan greeted right-handed reliever Jim Henderson with a homer off the foul pole in right field leading off the eighth. That opened the door for Houston right-hander Hector Ambriz (2-4) to find redemption after surrendering two homers Wednesday night and for the Astros to rally and take the rubber game of their third interleague series.

"It speaks to the resilience of the group as a whole, and we could not be more proud of that group of men in there," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "They did a tremendous job. You look at the mistakes that we made early in the game, it could have been one of those things where some of those guys held their head down, but not this group here. They kept fighting and found a way to get the game tied, and (then) Carlos (Pena) with the big three-run homer."

NOTES: Gindl, playing left field, made his first career start, five days after making his major league debut against the Cincinnati Reds. Gindl, a fifth-round selection in the 2007 draft, was hitless in two games off the bench after his recall from Triple-A Nashville. ... Astros RF Trevor Crowe was removed from the game after suffering a right shoulder injury in the sixth inning. Crowe, making his 10th start in 15 games, crashed into the right-field wall attempting to catch a Lucroy home run and was later placed on the 15-day disabled list.
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