Jose Altuve‘s second inning homer gave Houston the early lead but things turned ugly for the Astros tonight in the bottom of the sixth inning. Bud Norris sailed through the first four innings and pitched out of some trouble in the fifth. The game was tied 2-2 entering the bottom of the sixth and that’s when Bud ran out of gas. Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks took Norris deep in a five run inning that blew the game open for the Brewers. Weeks exacted a bit of revenge after Norris plunked him with his first pitch of the game. Norris appeared to be retaliating for Mat Gamel’s takeout of Jason Castro at home plate during last night’s game.
The three-run shot by Weeks sent Norris to the showers with a line of seven earned runs, nine hits, and two walks in 5 & 2/3 innings. Norris struck out six, including four in the third inning. Brad Mills elected to leave Norris in the game long after it became evident that Bud was struggling. Norris seemed to abruptly hit a wall somewhere around the 75 pitch mark. It looked like Bud was trying to get a little something extra on every fastball he threw, which could help to explain why he got tired so early. Fernando Rodriguez mercifully relieved Norris and prevented any further damage in the inning but allowed the Brewers to plate a single marker in the seventh.
But the Astros didn’t go down without a fight. Chris Johnson entered the game as part of a double-switch with Rodriguez and responded with a pair of hits and a pair of runs scored, helping the Astros close the gap to 8-6.
Much like last season Brett Myers continues to pitch once every fifth day or so. The difference is Myers only pitches one inning per appearance this season as opposed to six or more innings last year. Myers promptly surrendered a longball to Carlos Gomez leading off the bottom of the eighth and then retired the next three batters.
John Axford closed the door on the Astros in the ninth to earn the save in a 9-6 ballgame. The win was Milwaukee’s eleventh straight over the Astros. J.A. Happ (1-1, 4.00) goes up against Shaun Marcum (1-1, 3.79) in Wednesday’s series finale at 12:05 CDT.