HOUSTON (AP) — Rickie Weeks was in such a terrible slump that the Milwaukee Brewers promoted prospect Scooter Gennett to split time with him at second base earlier this month.
Since then the veteran has made the most of his opportunities, and Wednesday night was no exception as Weeks hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning to help the Brewers to a 3-1 win over the Houston Astros.
“Once Scooter got here and we got them matched up, he has been swinging the bat better,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “So it’s hard to say whether it was just the timing of it or it is the matchups. But I left him in there against a right-hander and he gets a big hit against a righty. So I think the combination of the two. Scooter has done a nice job out there and hopefully it’s a good platoon system.”
Weeks is hitting .429 with three homers and five RBI in his 10 games since Gennett was called up, raising his batting average from .192 to .217.
He wouldn’t say if his goal is to win back his job full-time.
“I can’t say nothing about that right now,” he said. “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.”
The Brewers couldn’t get anything going against Houston starter Erik Bedard as he threw a season-high 7 1-3 innings. Bedard was replaced by Hector Ambriz (1-4) with a runner on second, and Weeks greeted him with his sixth homer of the year for a 2-1 lead.
“They got a slider up to him,” Roenicke said. “That’s a big hit. We’ve been needing big hits and that’s a big hit.”
Houston manager Bo Porter was disappointed that Bedard wasn’t rewarded for his performance.
“I’m pretty sure Hector would love to have that pitch back and make more of a quality pitch,” Porter said. “Unfortunately, he did not, and Weeks got a pretty good swing on it.”
Aramis Ramirez added an insurance run with a solo shot in the ninth to help the Brewers tie the three-game series at 1-1. It was his 23rd career home run at Minute Maid Park, which the second-most for an opponent here behind the 24 Albert Pujols has.
John Axford (3-3) struck out two in the seventh for the win. Francisco Rodriguez allowed two hits in a scoreless ninth for his fifth save and the 299th of his career.
Brewers starter Kyle Lohse yielded six hits and a run with five strikeouts in six innings.
“It was one of those starts where I didn’t have my best command and when you can’t get your slider over and that’s a big part of your pre-game plan you just kind of have to go into salvage mode,” Lohse said. “(Martin Maldonado) called a great game being able to keep us in it and I made pitches when I had to and got big outs.”
Jose Altuve had three hits, stole three bases and scored Houston’s only run on a sacrifice fly in the first inning.
It was the second straight solid start for Bedard, who allowed four hits and tied a season-high with eight strikeouts. He didn’t give up a hit until t until Maldonado singled to start the third inning. But he still faced the minimum through three after the Astros turned a double play in that inning.
Bedard walked a batter in the fourth but didn’t allow another hit until a single by Weeks with two outs in the sixth inning. Jean Segura followed with another single before Carlos Gomez grounded out to end the threat.
Brandon Barnes and Altuve hit consecutive singles to start Houston’s third, but the Astros came away empty when Jason Castro struck out and J.D. Martinez lined into a double play.
The Astros had another chance to add to their 1-0 lead in the sixth. Altuve singled to start it off and stole second and third base before a two-out walk by Chris Carter. But Lohse retired Carlos Pena to escape the jam.
Altuve singled with one out in the first before Castro drew a walk. Altuve stole third base and scored on a sacrifice fly by Martinez.
NOTES: Houston signed RHP Mark Appel, the top overall pick in this year’s draft. He shagged balls in the outfield with the team before the game. … Brewers OF Norichika Aoki was placed on the paternity list to go to Milwaukee for the birth of his second child. OF Josh Prince was recalled from Triple-A Nashville to take his spot on the roster. Roenicke said he expects Aoki back for Friday’s game against Atlanta. … OF Ryan Braun, on the 15-day disabled list with a right thumb contusion, was in Arizona to visit a doctor about his injury. Roenicke said they should know better when he could come back after they hear the results. The series wraps up on Thursday when Houston’s Lucas Harrell opposes Yovani Gallardo.