Astros unable to sweep the Brewers

Astros unable to sweep the Brewers

HOUSTON -- Given his track record, odds are Andy Pettitte is going to get his share of wins this year. But in the early stages of the season, the only numbers he's building are hard-luck losses. This includes his misfortune during the Astros' 7-2, loss to the Brewers at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday night.

Pettitte (1-3) left the game after seven innings, having allowed two runs while striking out eight. However, it wasn't enough to beat the Brewers' Chris Capuano, who threw 7 2/3 innings and held the Astros to two runs on five hits.

The game was tied at 1 when Pettitte took the mound for his final inning. He recorded two quick outs before yielding three consecutive hits, including an RBI double to Damian Miller that scored Rickie Weeks and gave the Brewers a 2-1 lead.

Considering the pitcher was on deck with two outs, Pettitte was especially frustrated with his inability to retire Miller in a crucial part of the game. Pettitte appeared to have a few words with himself as he walked off the mound after striking out Capuano.

"I had a chance to get out of that inning," Pettitte said. "I didn't make a pitch when I had to, and Miller drove in a run that was huge, with the way Chris was throwing the ball tonight."

"I had to make an adjustment after those first two at-bats," said Miller, who struck out in the third inning and again in the fifth. "He was throwing me some nasty cutters and I could just not lay off it. I got to 2-0 and tried to change the approach, go the other way, get back to my game. He made a mistake with a fastball up. I'll take it."

Miller suspected Pettitte may have been trying to walk him.

"[Chad] Moeller was the only right-hander we had off the bench at that time, and he's the second catcher, so obviously you couldn't pinch-hit him," Miller said. "[Pettitte] might have been trying to walk me, I don't know. He just made a mistake."

The Brewers' one-run advantage turned into five when the Astros' bullpen took over. Russ Springer yielded four hits in the eighth, three of which were soft bloopers with two strikes and two outs. They resulted in three runs and ended any realistic chances of a Houston comeback.

"It's frustrating, but sometimes they bloop them in," Springer said. "Somebody said if there was a rule that you had to keep both hands on the bat, I would have been just fine today. But those count, too."

The bullpen had a bad series. In three games against Milwaukee, the relief corps pitched 7 1/3 innings and allowed 15 earned runs on 18 hits -- including four homers -- and seven walks.

Having carried lofty expectations heading into the season, it's hard not to wonder what's wrong with the 'pen. Part of the question was answered when the Astros revealed Trever Miller has been pitching with a sprained elbow, but what about the rest?

"This is our second homestand," Springer said. "I wouldn't worry too much about the bullpen. You all can write what you want to write, but I don't think anybody down there is worried about it. It would be different if we didn't hvae a track record. But I think everybody's fine."

"It's going to happen," Pettitte said. "It's a long year. We feel real good about what we're doing. We'll get it straightened out. I'll get it straightened out, start getting some wins, hopefully. We'll be fine."

It should be noted the Astros are 10-5 and atop the standings in the National League Central. Last year, they didn't log their 10th win until May 1.

After fielding several questions about the beleaguered bullpen, manager Phil Garner asked, "Does anyone want to ask about Morgan?"

He was referring, of course, to Morgan Ensberg, who tied a club record by hitting a home run in five consecutive games. His Wednesday contribution arrived with two outs in the eighth inning, and it prompted Milwaukee manager Ned Yost to turn the game over to his bullpen.

Knocking Capuano out of the game didn't do the Astros any good, however. They couldn't do anything against Jose Capellan or Derrick Turnbow, either.

The offensive display was the polar opposite of the first two games with Milwaukee, which resulted in 21 Houston runs.

"Today, we just took our lumps," said Craig Biggio, who drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning. "We came across a good pitcher. He pitched well."

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