Late homers boost Brewers past Astros

MoiseKapenda Bower, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks is resurgent. That he has found a groove while in the midst of a platoon with rookie Scooter Gennett is a byproduct of timing, exploited matchups or both.
A late power surge supplied by Weeks and third baseman Aramis Ramirez lifted the Brewers' stagnant offense in Milwaukee's 3-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.
Silenced by Astros left-hander Erik Bedard, the Brewers jumped on right-handed reliever Hector Ambriz (1-4) instead, with Weeks turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead with his two-run home run in the eighth inning. Ramirez followed with a solo shot leading off the ninth.
Weeks fell into a 0-2 hole and barely kept his at-bat alive when Astros catcher Jason Castro failed to corral a foul tip that squirted out of his glove. Weeks followed by bashing his sixth home run out to left field.
"In close ballgames, the big hit helps," said Weeks, who finished 2-for-4 and is hitting 7-for-16 (.438) on the Brewers' road trip. "The situation right there with a man on (Josh Prince), you've got to get something up in the zone, and I got something up for me.
"I can't say nothing about that (the platoon situation) right now. It's just one of those things where if my name is in the lineup, I've got to go out there and do my job. So that's what I've got to do."
Ramirez provided Brewers right-hander Francisco Rodriguez with some insurance with his fourth home run. Rodriguez recorded his fifth save in five save opportunities by pitching around two singles in the ninth.
Milwaukee right-hander John Axford (3-3) fanned two in a scoreless seventh.
The Astros (27-46) were victimized by shoddy baserunning, with shortstop Ronny Cedeno picked off first base in the fifth and Castro erased attempting to steal second base for the final out of the eighth. Their lack of clutch hitting was also an issue, as the Astros stranded eight baserunners and finished 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position
"Jason got the sign right, and that's totally on me," Astros manager Bo Porter said of the failed steal attempt. "That's knowing your team and how they pitch our guys. We were on the complete notion that (Chris) Carter was going to get a breaking ball there. If it's a breaking ball, Jason would have stolen the base."
It wasn't until the sixth inning that Bedard allowed consecutive batters to reach base, doing so by surrendering two-out singles to Weeks and shortstop Jean Segura. Bedard snuffed that threat by inducing a groundout from Carlos Gomez.
Bedard threw 7 1/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits and two walks. He struck out eight.
"My curveball was really good, so that got my fastball working a little better," Bedard said. "When you can mix the secondary pitches in there for strikes, it makes everything go a lot easier."
His counterpart, Brewers right-hander Kyle Lohse, required more elusiveness to keep the Astros in check. Houston took a 1-0 lead in the first when J.D. Martinez lifted a sacrifice fly to right field, bringing Jose Altuve home from third, but Lohse repeatedly limited additional damage.
The Astros managed five hits between the second and sixth innings but failed to convert that traffic into a bigger cushion. Lohse allowed one run on six hits and two walks before departing after six innings, but the Brewers (29-41) remained in contention because of his craftiness and resilience.
"He battled," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of Lohse. "Kyle did a great job of making some pitches when he needed to. He didn't walk guys, and they hit some hard balls at us, and that helped. Early on especially, they hit some hard balls, so it was a good outing for him."
NOTES: The Astros signed the first overall pick in this month's draft, Stanford RHP Mark Appel. A native of Houston, Appeal reportedly signed for a bonus of $6.35 million and will report to short-season Class A Tri-City of the New York-Penn League. ... Brewers OF Norichika Aoki was placed on paternity leave and returned to Milwaukee to witness the birth of his second child. Aoki is expected to rejoin the club Friday in advance of a three-game home series with the Atlanta Braves at Miller Park. Prince was recalled from Triple-A Nashville to fill the void on the 25-man roster.

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