Marcum pitches one-hit ball for seven innings
Not that he needed it.
Marcum (12-5) allowed his only hit with one out in the sixth inning, and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Houston Astros 4-0 Sunday for a three-game series sweep.
The Brewers supported Marcum with nine hits and a pair of early runs. Marcum has allowed four earned runs in his last five starts and has two victories to show for it.
"There's times you go out there and get a bunch and times you don't get any," Marcum said. "That's baseball. Personally, I like pitching in tighter games. There's been times in the past when I've had run support and I've lost focus.
"When games are tight, I feel I pitch a lot better," he said.
Marcum didn't allow a hit until Jordan Schafer's single to center field with one out in the sixth inning. After Schafer's hit, Marcum retired the next five batters to complete his day.
Houston ended up with three hits and Francisco Rodriguez and Takashi Saito completed the shutout for the Brewers. It was the Brewers 13th shutout of the season, their most since they had 14 in 1992.
"Every year I've been around, there's a pitcher who pitches great and you don't score a lot of runs for him," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "You look at his record and it doesn't tell what kind of season he's had. Shaun has pitched great all year."
Ryan Braun homered among his three hits and drove in two runs for Milwaukee.
Marcum pitched seven stellar innings, allowing a single to center field to Jordan Schafer and two other base runners. He struck out eight and walked one.
Matt Downs reached on Yuniesky Batancourt's throwing error to first base in the second inning. Schafer walked with two outs in the third for the only other baserunners off Marcum.
Marcum struck out Jimmy Paredes to end the third and then retired the next seven batters in a row until Schafer's hit.
Wandy Rodriguez (10-10) pitched six innings, allowed three earned runs and struck out eight and walked three.
"Wandy pitched well the whole game," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "The one thing that was disheartening was that all four of their runs came with two outs and nobody on. We've talked about that before. We have to close out innings."
Corey Hart extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a fifth-inning single.
Milwaukee powered to a 2-0 lead over the first two innings. Braun hit his 26th homer over the left field fence in the first inning and Jonathon Lucroy hit his 11th homer in the second.
Rodriguez struck out the first two batters in the fifth and then loaded the bases with singles to Marcum and Hart and he walked Jerry Hairston.
Braun walked on four pitches for a 3-0 lead and Prince Fielder grounded out with the bases still loaded.
Braun hit an RBI single off Enerio Del Rosario in the seventh.
"Offensively, we're doing some nice stuff," Roenicke said. "We're getting guys on base, stealing bases, being aggressive, going first to third."
Milwaukee begins a three-game series with St. Louis on Monday.
The Cardinals swept the Brewers last week. Getting a sweep in Houston, helped the Brewers for what's ahead.
"We needed to come down here and obviously win the series but to get a sweep is nice," Marcum. "We control our destiny. We can't focus on what the Cardinals are doing. If we keep doing what we've done all year, it'll be tough for them to catch us."
NOTES: Carlos Gomez started for the first time since breaking his left collarbone July 20. ... Milwaukee is 69-0 when leading after eight innings. They haven't blown such a lead since opening day. ... Carlos Lee got a day off with a 14-game hitting streak. The streak ties for the third longest of his career. He had a 28-game streak in 2004. ... Brian Bogusevic hit cleanup for the first time this season in Lee's place. ... Fielder is the only major leaguer who has started all his team's games this season.