Lee drives in 3 to lead Astros over Brewers 8-3Houston Astros' Carlos Lee runs down the third base lane to score from first on a Jed Lowrie RBI double during the second inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
HOUSTON (AP) Houston starter Bud Norris spoke to manager Brad Mills before the season about being more consistent and pitching deeper into games this year.
So far, Norris is getting just what he wanted.
Carlos Lee had three hits, including his first homer since April 22, and three RBIs to back another solid outing by Norris, and the Houston Astros beat the Milwaukee Brewers 8-3 on Wednesday night.
Norris (4-1) yielded four hits and a run with a season-high nine strikeouts in seven innings, improving to 3-0 in his last four starts to help Houston end a four-game skid.
''He came in saying he wanted to have a different year this year and I think with the way he's gone about his business and gone about how he's pitched has been along those lines,'' Mills said. ''There's no reason to think that's going to change as he continues to put together good outing after good outing.''
The team is 7-1 in his eight starts this season and he's pitched fewer than six innings just once this year.
''I'm growing up and I guess I'm getting a little older and a little wiser,'' the 27-year-old said. ''Each offseason I'm going to try to make strides in the right direction and I've got a lot of people around me helping.''
Lee's home run was a solo shot to left-center field in the seventh inning that put Houston up 8-1. His third homer of the season came just moments after he narrowly avoided being hit by a foul ball from J.D. Martinez while waiting in the on-deck circle.
''It was too close,'' he said. ''If the ball is coming right at you, you're so close right there that by the time you react, the ball's already by you. So it's scary to be out there.''
Lee looked a bit shaken after ducking to avoid the ball and running out of the way. He recovered by the time he was at the plate, and the homer was the culmination of a good night for Lee, who singled and scored in the second then drove in two runs with a single in Houston's three-run third.
He's had 10 hits combined in the last four games after getting nine in the previous 10 games.
''I'm feeling real good right now,'' he said. ''I've kind of found something that's keeping me in a good position to hit.''
Milwaukee starter Randy Wolf (2-4) allowed seven hits and seven runs - six earned - in a season-worst four innings. His performance ended a streak of seven straight quality starts for the Brewers, whose starters combined for a 1.37 ERA in that span.
''Randy got behind guys and they started finding holes,'' Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. ''I've said before these guys are a scrappy team. Offensively, these guys can swing the bat. They are always on base. They are hard to get out.''
The Brewers were disappointed that they weren't able to build on Tuesday's 8-0 win over the Mets.
''I can only speak for myself, and I know I'm miserable,'' Wolf said when asked about the mood of the team.
The only mistake by Norris came in the fourth inning against Corey Hart. Hart's eighth homer of the season sailed to the back of the Crawford Boxes in left field to get Milwaukee within 5-1. But the Brewers weren't able to build on it and Norris retired 11 straight after that, striking out six.
Milwaukee didn't get another runner on base until Cesar Izturis singled with two outs in the seventh inning, but Norris struck out pinch-hitter Taylor Green to end the inning.
Pinch-hitter Jonathan Lucroy's triple in the ninth inning drove in two runs to cut the lead to 8-3.
Lee singled in the second before scoring on a double by Jed Lowrie, which bounced off the wall in left field, to put Houston up 1-0. Justin Maxwell followed with an RBI single on a grounder to center field which pushed the lead to 2-0.
Norris started Houston's third with a single that was deflected into the outfield by Rickie Weeks. Jose Altuve singled with one out before Wolf walked J.D. Martinez to load the bases.
A groundball single by Lee scored Norris and Altuve to extend Houston's lead to 4-0.
Lowrie reached second base and Martinez scored on an error by Hart, the right fielder, when he couldn't make an over-the-shoulder catch on a fly ball at the wall.
Jordan Schafer drove in a run with a single in the fourth to make it 6-1. Altuve walked after Schafer's hit and the pair pulled off a double steal. Schafer scored on a sacrifice fly by Martinez.
Weeks struck out four times to lower his average to .154. The slumping Weeks has had just one hit - a home run - in his last 27 at-bats.
NOTES: Brewers SS Alex Gonzalez is scheduled to have surgery on the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on Thursday in Milwaukee. ... Houston pitching coach Doug Brocail turned 45 on Wednesday. ... Jackie Robinson's daughter Sharon Robinson was at Wednesday night's game to honor local seventh grader Aeliya Arif for winning second place in a national essay contest where students tell how they've used Jackie Robinson's values to face obstacles. ... These teams wrap up this short, two-game series on Thursday when Houston lefthander J.A. Happ meets Milwaukee's Shaun Marcum.