HOUSTON – Milwaukee Brewers starting pitchers had not yielded more than two earned runs in seven straight starts heading into Wednesday night's game against the Houston Astros.
That streak, as well as the Brewers' six-game winning streak against the Astros, ended with Randy Wolf.
Carlos Lee had three hits, including his first homer since April 22, and three RBIs to back another solid outing by Bud Norris, and Houston beat Milwaukee 8-3.
Wolf, who pitched six scoreless innings in his last start, allowed seven hits and seven runs — six earned — in a season-worst four innings. His performance ended a streak of seven straight quality starts for the Brewers, whose starters combined for a 1.37 ERA in that span.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Wolf had command issues.
"First inning (was) really good," Roenicke said. "Just everything came out live; (he) hit his spots. Then, we go into the second inning and he starts losing a little, and then just continues to battle with his command."
Wolf (2-4), who had a five-game winning streak against the Astros snapped, pointed to the three walks as a sign of his command issues, adding that he left balls over the plate.
"They're not a bad hitting team," Wolf said. "They have a lot of good young players, but there is no excuse for me to not make my pitches."
Wolf had an easy answer for how he could improve.
"Making better pitches," he said. "It's always that simple."
Lee's home run was a solo shot to left-center field in the seventh inning that put Houston up 8-1.
The homer was the culmination of a good night for Lee, who singled and scored in the second then drove in two runs with a single in Houston's three-run third.
Norris (4-1) yielded four hits and a run with a season-high nine strikeouts in seven innings, improving to 3-0 in his last four starts to help Houston end a four-game skid.
"He was throwing the fastball and mixing it in with the change and the slider," Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan said. "We couldn't catch any breaks tonight. We hit balls right at guys and couldn't get the timely hit when we needed it."
The only mistake by Norris came in the fourth inning against Corey Hart. Hart's eighth homer of the season sailed to the back of the Crawford Boxes in left field to get Milwaukee within 5-1. But the Brewers weren't able to build on it and Norris retired 11 straight after that, striking out six.
Milwaukee didn't get another runner on base until Cesar Izturis singled with two outs in the seventh inning, but Norris struck out pinch-hitter Taylor Green to end the inning.
Pinch-hitter Jonathan Lucroy's triple in the ninth inning drove in two runs to cut the lead to 8-3.
Roenicke said the inconsistent performance of the offense is frustrating, especially after the Brewers defeated the New York Mets 8-0 Tuesday.
"The guys are working hard every day," he said. "We have a good game, and you think we are going to get going, and we don't. Norris threw a nice game. He was hitting his spots with his fastball, and he had a good slider, but we can't repeat and get things going in consecutive games."
Lee singled in the second before scoring on a double by Jed Lowrie, which bounced off the wall in left field, to put Houston up 1-0. Justin Maxwell followed with an RBI single on a grounder to center field which pushed the lead to 2-0.
Norris started Houston's third with a single that was deflected into the outfield by Rickie Weeks. Jose Altuve singled with one out before Wolf walked J.D. Martinez to load the bases.
A groundball single by Lee scored Norris and Altuve to extend Houston's lead to 4-0.
Lowrie reached second base and Martinez scored on an error by Hart, the right fielder, when he couldn't make an over-the-shoulder catch on a fly ball at the wall.
Jordan Schafer drove in a run with a single in the fourth to make it 6-1. Altuve walked after Schafer's hit and the pair pulled off a double steal. Schafer scored on a sacrifice fly by Martinez.
Weeks struck out four times to lower his average to .154. The slumping Weeks has had just one hit — a home run — in his last 27 at-bats.
NOTES: Brewers SS Alex Gonzalez is scheduled to have surgery on the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on Thursday in Milwaukee. ... Houston pitching coach Doug Brocail turned 45 on Wednesday. ... Jackie Robinson's daughter Sharon Robinson was at Wednesday night's game to honor local seventh grader Aeliya Arif for winning second place in a national essay contest where students tell how they've used Jackie Robinson's values to face obstacles. ... These teams wrap up this short, two-game series on Thursday when Houston lefthander J.A. Happ meets Milwaukee's Shaun Marcum.