Astros hang on against Brewers

Astros hang on against Brewers

HOUSTON -- When Roy Oswalt is on the mound and his team is up by nine in the seventh inning, there's usually no reason to panic.

And it's definitely not a night when you think you're going to need your closer.

This one all worked out in the end, but the Houston Astros' 13-12 win over the Milwaukee Brewers was anything but a cakewalk after the pitching staff nearly squelched what looked to be their easiest win of the young season.

Sure, everyone walked away happy -- the club owner, the former president and first lady of the United States, the "Real Men of Genius" Bud Light guys and 27,994 at Minute Maid Park. But the game became tense late, after Oswalt allowed four runs in the seventh and left the rest to the bullpen, which hasn't exactly been consistent so far this season.

The Astros' early hit barrage negatively affected Oswalt, who admitted he stiffened up over the course of his 105-pitch outing. While the offensive merry-go-round was fun to watch, Oswalt waited, and waited, and waited in the dugout in between innings. Not good.

He berated himself for going back out to pitch the seventh with the Astros up by nine, five days after throwing 122 pitches trying to complete a game in San Francisco.

"That was a perfect game to get out of in the sixth inning," Oswalt (3-0) said. "Let the guys pick up the last three innings. I was trying to do too much, too early in the season. It was a perfect game to get out of.

"When you sit in the dugout for 30 minutes between innings, every inning, every inning, you just get stiff. I had my pitch count low enough where there was no sense in going back out in the seventh."

Oswalt's outing didn't end well, considering Gabe Gross launched his second pinch-hit homer in as many days, but there's no evidence that the bullpen would have been better had it started that frame. The final 2 1/3 innings were ugly, and an ineffective relief staff was lucky the offense had its way with five Brewers pitchers, beginning with starter Doug Davis.

Soon after former President George Bush smooched his wife, Barbara, during "Kiss Cam," and Bud Light recorded a brand new "Real Men of Genius" commercial right on the field, things began to unravel. Ezequiel Astacio gave up a two-run bomb to Carlos Lee. Trever Miller did the same with Prince Fielder batting later in the eighth frame.

Brad Lidge, summoned by manager Phil Garner with two outs in the eighth, also was a victim of the longball, this one also by Lee with no outs in the ninth. That brought the Brewers within a run of tying the game, which made Adam Everett's RBI single in the eighth arguably the most important hit of the Astros' 17 on Tuesday.

"Right now, the way the ball's jumping in our park, we're definitely not relaxed with any score right now," Lidge said. "We have confidence in our pitching, but it's tough to get outs right now.

"Both teams are hitting the ball very well. The credit has to go to the hitters. When they're getting pitches to hit, they're hitting them out of the park."

That's why even when the Astros were ahead by nine after six, Lidge did not become complacent from his seat in the 'pen.

"I still stretched, did my normal things as if I would pitch in a game," Lidge said. "That's why you do it. You never know when you're going to get in a game. Whether you're winning or losing by a lot, you always have to make sure you're going through the same routine so that if your situation comes up, you'll be ready."

An ugly box score had several shining numbers, particularly next to Everett's name. The shortstop tied his career high with four RBIs. The final one mattered the most -- a single off Justin Lehr that scored Preston Wilson from second.

"You never know when you're going to get the opportunities," Everett said. "It's nice to have some fall in whenever guys are out there [on base]."

"I guess you can classify this as an ugly win," Biggio said. "But the bottom line is: It's a win and we're not going home with a loss. That would have really hurt bad if we would have lost. It was just a crazy game. They just kept battling, and we kept battling. Preston getting on, and Adam getting that big RBI in the eighth was huge."

Added Garner: "Thank goodness for Adam Everett tonight. Some of those runs that you [are unable] to pick up can come back and haunt you. Adam cleaned it up all night long for us. It turned out to be the difference in the game."

Alyson Footer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.