Astros 4, Brewers 0

Many times this season when J.A. Happ got into trouble on the

mound, the left-hander was unable to make the pitches necessary to

escape those jams.

That wasn’t the case Thursday night.

Jed Lowrie hit a two-run homer and Happ threw six effective

innings before three relievers completed the Houston Astros’ 4-0

victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.

The shutout wrapped up a two-game sweep for the Astros, who took

the opener 8-3.

Happ (3-3) yielded seven hits and walked one, managing to escape

jam after jam as the Brewers stranded eight while he was on the


”He had to work out of some jams and he got some pretty good

hitters to work out of those jams,” Houston manager Brad Mills

said. ”He had to make those pitches to get out of it, but we’ve

seen the last couple outings that it’s been kind of tough to make

those pitches, and tonight he was able to make the pitches. It was

sure great to see.”

Chris Snyder, batting .179 this season, had two hits – including

an RBI single after Lowrie’s homer in Houston’s four-run fourth.

Jordan Schafer drove in a run later in that inning with a single

and also had a double in the third.

Milwaukee starter Shaun Marcum (2-2) allowed four runs – three

earned – and a season-high nine hits in five innings. The Brewers

said he was bothered by a cramp in his oblique before the game, but

he didn’t feel it again after warming up.

Marcum called the team’s 1-3 road trip to New York and Houston


”We’re getting guys on base. We just have to get hits with guys

on base, and pitchers have to make pitches when they have runners

on base and play good defense,” Marcum said. ”Just do all the

things you were taught as a little kid, you know? Play the game

fundamentally sound, and if we do that hopefully things take care

of themselves.”

Astros relievers Wesley Wright, Wilton Lopez and Fernando Abad

combined to give up one hit in three innings, handing Milwaukee its

fourth shutout.

Lopez allowed his first walk of the season to Aramis Ramirez in

the eighth inning. Before that he had faced 78 batters without a

walk, which was the longest such streak by a reliever to start a

season since John Smoltz went 92 hitters before walking one in


”The ball bounced our way tonight. Sometimes it doesn’t, and

that’s kind of the difference,” Happ said. ”We were fortunate for

that and we played good defense.”

Happ walked Marcum with one out in the third before a double by

Norichika Aoki. Rickie Weeks followed with an infield single – his

second hit in his last 29 at-bats – but Happ retired Ryan Braun and

Ramirez to pitch out of the bases-loaded jam.

Happ got into trouble again in the fifth after a single by Cesar

Izturis before a one-out single by Aoki. An error by right fielder

Brian Bogusevic allowed Aoki to advance to second and Izturis to

move to third. Happ got out of this one by striking out Weeks

before a groundout by Braun.

In what became a theme for his night, Happ got into another jam

in the sixth. A double by Corey Hart before a single by Jonathan

Lucroy left runners at the corners with one out. Happ escaped

unscathed yet again when Snyder caught a foul popup by Brooks

Conrad and Izturis grounded into a force out to end the inning.

”We have a lot of things that we have to start doing better

offensively,” Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. ”Regardless of

what happened in the fourth inning with Marcum, we don’t score, and

we need to start scoring.”

The performance helped Happ put his last two starts, when he

allowed 11 runs combined, behind him.

”I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself, but I

definitely wanted to go out and have a good one,” Happ said. ”I

felt good physically and mechanically and … I wasn’t


Carlos Lee singled in the fourth before Lowrie’s shot to right

field, which sailed over the outstretched arm of a leaping Hart,

put Houston up 2-0. Bogusevic singled before scoring on a one-out

single by Snyder.

Snyder advanced to second on the play thanks to an error by Aoki

in center field. Schafer capped the scoring with a two-out RBI


NOTES: Brewers SS Alex Gonzalez had surgery on the anterior

cruciate ligament in his right knee in Milwaukee. His recovery time

is expected to be six months. … Roenicke expects OF Carlos Gomez

(strained left hamstring) to be activated from the disabled list

Sunday. He is on a rehabilitation assignment with Class-A

Wisconsin. … Houston opens a three-game series with the Rangers

on Friday, with Wandy Rodriguez facing Texas right-hander Neftali

Feliz. … Brewers RHP Marco Estrada opposes Minnesota left-hander

Scott Diamond in the opener of a three-game set Friday.