"For some reason, he had a little more fire in his eye it looked like," interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said. "He was aggressive in the zone, had a good breaking ball. That's a real good-hitting team over there to shut down, and it was nice to get some runs early in the game."
The Astros hit four home runs for the second time in three games, giving them 11 homers in the series against the Brewers. Fernando Martinez hit a long homer to straightaway center in the fourth, and Lyles hit a no-doubt shot to left field in the fifth. Jed Lowrie and Matt Dominguez went back-to-back in the sixth, marking the third game in a row Houston had consecutive homers.
"I feel like guys were getting in good counts and not trying to do too much, just trying their swings," said Lowrie, who hit his 16th homer in 332 at-bats. "When you get into good counts and you put good swings on balls over the course of the season, if you have a little power you're going to hit some out as long as you don't try to do too much."
Lyles' gem is the third complete game of the season for the Astros and is the second shutout. Rookie Lucas Harrell shut out the Padres on June 27, and the other complete game was pitched by fellow rookie Dallas Keuchel against the Indians four days earlier.
"It was awesome to finish up this up-and-down season with a pretty good start," said Lyles, who went 5-12 with a 5.09 ERA in 25 starts. "A lot of [the credit] goes to [catcher Carlos Corporan] for calling a great game today, mixing the fastball in and out, so I can't say enough about what he did today."
Corporan added a two-run, bases-loaded single in the eighth as the Astros won two of three from the Brewers to improve to 13-14 in September heading into their final series as a member of the National League beginning Monday in Chicago.
"I think you see guys going up there getting hits and having good at-bats and it builds a little confidence in you that they're seeing this guy well, and I think it carries all the way up and down the lineup," Lowrie said.
Lyles won for just the second time in 20 career road starts. The Astros turned double plays in the first, second and fourth innings to help Lyles face the minimum 15 batters through five innings and keep him away from the big inning, which has been a problem this year.
"I know I can have some similar outings to this," Lyles said. "I'm not saying I can go out and throw a shutout every time, but I can go through lineups and just stay away from the big inning like I did today, I think that gives me a lot of confidence heading into the offseason."
DeFrancesco, who got a good look at Lyles at Triple-A the past two years, says it's time for the big right-hander and former first-round pick to take advantage of his opportunity heading into 2013.
"He's getting plenty of opportunity to show he's a starter in the rotation," he said. "If he can leave the offseason with some of the memories he had today, he'll open Spring Training not just being the other guy, not using the age 21 as an excuse. The novelty is over that he's 21. He's pitched in the big leagues now for a year and a half and next year he needs to step up. If we can get Jordan Lyles to be a No. 1 at 22, maybe he can stick around for the next 10 years and bring these guys some championships."
Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy's line drive to right field in the fifth was the only hard-hit ball of the game off Lyles.
"He was spotting-up, big time," Lucroy said. "I went back and looked at my first at-bat and he threw me three borderline strikes and I struck out looking; it was three borderline strikes, painted. When a guy is doing that with velocity and movement, those are really, really tough. All hitters hit are mistakes. He threw a shutout through nine [innings], which is really impressive against the best-hitting team in baseball, and at home. That's pretty good."
Lyles could go down in the record books to be the last Astros pitcher to homer for quite some time considering the team is moving to the American League next year and will only see its pitchers hit during Interleague games in National League parks.
"I was looking for a fastball over the plate and didn't know if it was going to be the last one so I tried to put it in the seats," he said.