Rodriguez helps Astros shut out Brewers
Wandy Rodriguez added another impressive start to his dazzling streak and Houston's young hitters got off to a fast start in a 6-0 victory Saturday night.
"It shows a lot for the guys we've still got here, that we can put that behind us and once we step on the field we've got to play hard and get the job done," rookie third baseman Chris Johnson said in the wake of trades that sent Lance Berkman to the Yankees and Roy Oswalt to the Phillies.
On the same day that Berkman was dealt to New York, Houston's rookie-filled lineup scored five times in the first two innings and led the club to its fourth straight win. It was the fourth consecutive loss for Milwaukee.
Houston beat the Brewers 5-0 behind a strong outing by new acquisition J.A. Happ on Friday. It is the first time the Astros have shut out the same team in consecutive games since June of 2004.
On Saturday, Johnson had three hits and drove in a run while extending his hitting streak to a career-long 14 games and fellow rookie Angel Sanchez had two RBIs.
"We're having fun that last couple of days, running around and have a lot of energy," Johnson said. "We're just trying to learn together as a group, really."
Rodriguez (9-11) struck out nine in a season-high eight innings, allowing five hits while improving to 6-1 with a 1.91 ERA in his last seven starts.
"He's throwing the ball extremely well, commanding that fastball, which is setting up the curveball," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "He was really hitting on that curveball today. When he's able to spot that fastball and his curveball's like it is, it's going to be tough."
Rodriguez gave up a pair of singles to start the game before retiring the next nine batters. The left-hander also dropped nine straight before Ryan Braun doubled with no outs in the seventh inning.
"We kinda run into a buzz saw here with Rodriguez," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "The guy had good command of his curveball. And this is his second time out against us, and his curveball again was pretty dominant."
Tim Byrdak took over for the ninth inning and allowed one hit and walked two before he was replaced by Nelson Figueroa, who struck out two batters to complete the shutout.
Dave Bush (5-9) pitched five innings for Milwaukee, yielding six runs and 10 hits.
"They had a lot of guys on base and they got a lot of hits with guys on base so the first two innings put us behind quite a bit," Bush said. "Some of them were pretty good pitches. A couple weren't located all that well. Some of them might have been pitch selection."
Rookie Brett Wallace made his major league debut at first base in place of Berkman. Wallace was acquired from Toronto on Thursday for Anthony Gose, who was part of the deal that sent Oswalt to Philadelphia.
Michael Bourn helped spark Houston's strong start. He walked, stole second and scored on Sanchez's single to right. Sanchez eventually came around on Jason Michaels' sacrifice fly.
The Astros added three more in the second. Johnson singled to give him the longest hitting streak by a Houston rookie since Julio Lugo's 14-game run in 2000. He scored on Bourn's double.
Sanchez also drove in a run with a groundout and Bourn scored on Jeff Keppinger's single to make it 5-0.
Johnson added an RBI double in the fifth.
NOTES: Houston RHP Felipe Paulino was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. He has been on the DL since June 21 with a strained right rotator cuff. ... Astros general manager Ed Wade said the team is "very, very close" to completing a multiyear contract extension with starting pitcher Brett Myers. Myers is 8-6 with a 3.10 ERA and has pitched at least six innings in each of his 21 starts this season.