Wolf takes loss after shaky four-inning outing

Wolf takes loss after shaky four-inning outing

Wolf takes loss after shaky four-inning outing
HOUSTON -- The Brewers won the National League Central last season, finishing 40 games ahead of Houston. After Milwaukee's 8-3 loss to the Astros on Wednesday at Minute Maid Park, the two teams have identical 16-21 records this season.

Milwaukee slipped to 1-2 on its brief four-game road trip, which concludes on Thursday.

Brewers pitching had turned in seven consecutive quality starts entering Wednesday, posting a 1.37 ERA over that span while holding opposing hitters to a .160 batting average. But it was clear early that Wolf (2-4) did not have his best stuff. The lefty lasted just four innings, yielding seven hits and six earned runs. He walked three and struck out one.

"I walked three guys and left the ball over the plate," said Wolf. "I'm miserable. They're not a bad hitting team. They've got a lot of good, young players. But there's no excuse for me to not execute my pitches."

Milwaukee managed just one run, a fourth-inning homer from Corey Hart, and four hits off Houston starter Bud Norris (4-1), who struck out nine over seven innings.

Pinch-hitter Jonathan Lucroy delivered a two-run triple in the ninth inning, scoring Aramis Ramirez and Hart, who both walked. Between the Hart homer and Lucroy triple, Milwaukee managed just one hit -- a seventh-inning single by Cesar Izturis.

Wolf recorded Milwaukee's first hit of the game, leading off the third inning with an opposite-field single. Ryan Braun added a two-out single, but both were left stranded when Ramirez rolled out to short.

"It's frustrating," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "The guys are working hard every day. We have a good game, you think we're going to get going, and we don't. We can't repeat and get going on consecutive days."

Roenicke said that while Wolf battled with his command, he was still in the game but for a couple of key plays in a three-run third inning that extended Houston's lead to 5-0.

Lee bounced a two-run single up the middle and Hart made a long run near the foul line in right field before dropping a fly ball that plated another run.

"He's still in the ballgame if the ball that Carlos Lee hits is hit at somebody -- it's a double play," Roenicke said. "Corey makes the play in the outfield and it's a different ballgame.

"I say it all the time, 'When you're not playing well, these things happen.' It changes what happens in a game for the pitcher. He thought he made a good pitch on Carlos Lee, which he did, and Carlos tops the ball and it's placed perfectly up the middle.

Norris didn't give the Brewers many chances for a comeback and continued his winning ways.

"I want to keep doing it," said Norris, who improved to 3-0 with a 0.47 ERA in his last three starts. "When I get a cushion like that it makes it easier to throw strikes, because one mistake is not going to kill you."

Outside of the home run to Hart, Norris didn't make many mistakes.

"He was Bud," said Brewers leadoff hitter Nyjer Morgan, who was one of five starters in the Milwaukee lineup who went hitless. "He was throwing the fastball and then mixing it in with the change and slider. We didn't catch any breaks tonight. We hit quite a few balls right at guys and didn't get the timely hit."

Morgan echoed the frustration in the clubhouse.

"It's frustrating, but you can't let it get to you," he said. "We've got to just keep plugging away and eventually this has got to turn. You've just got to stay positive.

"We know what our skills are, and we're not getting the results right now. As a hitter, that's just frustrating. It's a little cloudy right now, but the sun will come out soon."

Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.