HOUSTON – Milwaukee has struggled on the road this season. However, with Yovani Gallardo going in the opener of a three-game series against the Astros, the Brewers were able to keep up their strong play.
Gallardo allowed four hits over eight innings and the Brewers beat Houston 8-1 Friday night for their ninth win in 10 games. Gallardo won his seventh straight decision against the Astros and improved to 10-2 in his career against them.
"We're in a place where we're playing the type of ball I know we can play and we're consistently doing it," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "That's what we've been trying to get to."
The Brewers are still 22-35 on the road this season but it was a feel-good start to a six-game road trip. They won on the road, Gallardo pitched one of his best games of the season and Craig Counsell snapped his franchise-record 0-for-45 hitless streak.
"Overall, this is the type of game we needed today, to get (Tim) Dillard in there, to get Counsell a hit, to have Yo have a nice game and to continue to swing the bat well," Roenicke said.
Counsell — who was one away from tying Bill Bergen's major league record for a position player, set in 1909 — , had a joyous return to the dugout after his hitless nightmare.
"It was almost like I'd been throwing a no-hitter and nobody would talk to me about it," Counsell said. "It's a relief just to do something right. It was just one hit but it meant something to me."
And to his teammates.
"We all were yelling and pretty excited," Gallardo said.
Houston got three hits and one run off Gallardo (13-7) in the second inning. After that, he didn't allow another hit until J.B.
Shuck singled in the fifth in his first major league at-bat.
"The second inning, I just left pitches out over the plate too much," Gallardo said. "Carlos (Lee) I threw the slider. It was down but right down the middle. The curve to Martinez was up. I just had to focus more."
Corey Hart hit his 16th homer in the sixth inning off Aneury Rodriguez, stretching Milwaukee's lead to 7-1.
The Brewers got a quick 3-0 lead off J.A. Happ (4-14) in the first inning on an RBI double by Ryan Braun, who had three hits, and a two-run single by Casey McGehee.
The Astros loaded the bases with one out in the second inning.
Lee and J.D. Martinez each singled. Brian Bogusevic's sacrificed moved the runners up and Clint Barmes walked. Humberto Quintero's line drive to center field scored Lee but Happ struck out and Jason Bourgeois flew out to end the rally.
Happ allowed seven hits, six earned runs and he struck out three and walked two. He has one victory in his last 11 decisions.
Milwaukee got its final run on a bases-loaded walk by Enerio Del Rosario in the ninth.
The Brewers got three more runs in the third after Happ loaded the bases on the first three batters of the third inning on a single by Braun, double by Prince Fielder and a walk to McGehee.
The runs scored on singles by Yuniesky Betancourt and Jonathon Lucroy and a sacrifice fly by Felipe Lopez for a 6-1 lead.
Is Happ in danger of losing his spot in the rotation?
"You know, we are going to talk about some things and see if that is the route we need to go as far as getting things ironed out," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "We'll talk about some things to see if we can get him back to being where he needs to be and throwing the way he is certainly capable."
The Brewers have the best home record in the majors at 41-15 but they've struggled on the road at 22-35.
NOTES: The Brewers got 11 hits, giving them at least 10 hits in seven consecutive games. ... Counsell's previous hit came June 10 against St. Louis. ... The Astros purchased Shuck's contract from Triple-A Oklahoma City prior to the game. OF Luis Durango was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. ... Milwaukee is 29-18 against the NL Central this season. ... Happ surrendered five runs (two earned) and a season-high 10 hits in five innings against Milwaukee in his last outing. Happ has yielded at least five runs in each of his last eight starts. ... LHP Chris Narveson (7-6) starts in the middle game of the three-game set on Saturday against RHP Brett Myers (3-11). ... Narveson makes his 23rd start this season and has 12 quality starts. He is 0-2 in six starts against the Astros. ... Myers will try to snap a five-game losing streak.