Blum's homer helps Astros top Brewers

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Brian Moehler sounded as if he's on a losing skid, not a winning streak. Moehler extended his winning stretch to five games by pitching into the sixth inning and allowing one earned run, and Geoff Blum hit a tiebreaking three-ru...

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Brian Moehler sounded as if he's on a losing skid, not a winning streak.

Moehler extended his winning stretch to five games by pitching into the sixth inning and allowing one earned run, and Geoff Blum hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the sixth to help the Houston Astros beat Ben Sheets and the Milwaukee Brewers 5-2 on Tuesday night.

''I was very fortunate tonight,'' Moehler said. ''I am just struggling right now. I made some pitches when I had to. My mechanics are off and I just need to work on it Friday and Saturday in the bullpen.''

The right-hander (9-4) gave up nine hits in 5 1-3 innings. He struck out four and walked one to beat Milwaukee for the first time since Aug. 25, 2006. Moehler was 0-3 in his last eight starts against the Brewers, including 0-2 this season.

''We got some big hits and made some big defensive plays tonight,'' Moehler said. ''Blum's hit was huge.''


Blum was hitless in nine at-bats before he hit a 1-2 pitch from Sheets (11-7) to right-center for his career-high 12th home run, giving the Astros their 10th win in 13 games. Houston is 14-5 in August.

''I was looking off speed,'' Blum said. ''I know that sounds a little weird with Ben Sheets throwing 94-95 mph. My previous at-bats he had gotten me out on some off-speed pitches. He just happened to leave it out over the plate and I was able to get a hold of it.''

Darin Erstad led off the sixth with a single and stole second. On the next pitch, Sheets hit Michael Bourn in the lower leg as he was squaring to bunt. Ty Wigginton then flied out before Lance Berkman struck out.

Four relievers combined to shut down Milwaukee the rest of the way, including Jose Valverde, who pitched the ninth for his 32nd save in 38 attempts.

''Moehler kind of bent, but didn't break,'' Houston manager Cecil Cooper said. ''He didn't have the good command like he normally does. He battled them and kept it close, and then Geoff got the big hit for us.''

Sheets lost for the fourth time in his last five starts, and afterward, Milwaukee manager Ned Yost was asked if he was concerned.

''No, I'm not concerned,'' said Yost, who turned 54 on Tuesday. ''He pitched very good tonight but he made a couple of mistakes with two outs.''

The right-hander gave up five runs on five hits inn six innings. He struck out seven and walked one, as the Brewers snapped their five-game home winning streak.


''It seemed like I didn't make many mistakes but the ones I did they hit hard,'' Sheets said. ''I ain't pitching great but I don't think I'm pitching as bad as it's made out to be. I've pitched plenty of winnable games and I've pitched plenty of losable games in that stretch.

''In the first half I came away with a lot of victories pitching the same way that I am now,'' he added. ''Earlier I had a lot of room for error. Now when I'm pitching sometimes I think I get caught up in trying not to make a mistake. Because one can be the difference now.''

Milwaukee played without Ryan Braun, who left the game in the sixth inning Monday with a strain around his lower ribcage. The left fielder, who also missed six games last week because of the injury, is day to day.

Braun's replacement, Gabe Kapler, was 0-for-4 and left the bases loaded on two different occasions.

Houston tied the score at 2 in the third. After singles by Humberto Quintero and Erstad, Bourn hit a two-out, two-run triple to right field.

Milwaukee took a 1-0 lead when Ray Durham led off the first with a single and scored on a double to right field by J.J. Hardy, who was thrown out trying to advance to third.

Craig Counsell led off the second and reached on an error when he popped up his bunt and Berkman dropped it for an error as he charged in from first base. Mike Cameron followed with a double for a 2-0 lead, but Kapler struck out with the bases loaded to end the inning.

Kapler also left the bases loaded in the fourth when he flied out to center.


''We definitely had opportunities,'' Yost said. ''We had opportunities to score some runs early. We scored one in the first and one in the second and had opportunities to score more but just couldn't get the big hit.''

CREW CUTS: Hardy celebrated his 26th birthday and teammate Chris Capuano, on the disabled list, turned 30. ... Houston's Felipe Paulino was examined by team medical director Dr. David Lintner on Tuesday, and the right-handed pitcher was diagnosed with bursitis in his right shoulder. He will begin a throwing program on flat ground and then move to the mound. ... Henry Winkler threw out the ceremonial first pitch. A bronze statue of the TV star from ''Happy Days'' was unveiled in downtown Milwaukee earlier in the day.

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