Blum's clutch homer lifts Astros

Blum's clutch homer lifts Astros

MILWAUKEE -- Astros players may want Ben Sheets to someday pitch for their team, but Tuesday night at Miller Park, they beat him.

Geoff Blum's three-run homer off Sheets in the sixth inning broke a tie and lifted the Astros to a 5-2 win over the Brewers before another sellout crowd of 41,622, evening the series at one apiece.

Sheets, expected to be one of the most coveted pitchers in the upcoming free-agent class, has beaten the Astros more times (12) than he has any other team. But a 1-2 pitch to Blum, who wasn't sure if it was a sinker or a changeup, put the four-time All-Star in the loss column for the seventh time this year.

"I was looking offspeed, to be honest," Blum said. "I know it sounds a little weird with Ben Sheets throwing 94, 95 [mph], but in my previous at-bats, he's gotten me out on so many offspeed pitches. We hadn't figured out exactly what it is. ... It's got good depth to it and he just happened to leave it out over the plate and I got a hold of it."

Blum's shot, which landed in the Astros' bullpen in right-center and broke a 2-2 tie, wasn't the only clutch hit from an Astros hitter. Most of the postgame praise was sent in the direction of Michael Bourn, whose two-run triple with two outs in the third tied the game.

"You're down and Sheets is pitching and it looks like he's rolling," manager Cecil Cooper said. "Michael got a big base hit for us with two strikes to get us on the board and get us going a little bit."

Bourn, who lost his starting job to Darin Erstad and has had only four at-bats in the last week, was one of a myriad of left-handed hitters who made it into Cooper's lineup to face the right-handed Sheets. Facing Sheets in the third, Bourn saw four curveballs and a fastball and guessed Sheets was coming at him with another curve. He guessed right.

"I just had a feeling he was going to throw me another curveball," Bourn said. "I didn't know for sure, but I saw it pretty much almost right out of his hand and I tried to wait back as long as I could. You can't really guess curveball, because he has a good fastball. I just saw it pretty good and got pretty good wood on it and got into the right-field corner and just kept running."

Humberto Quintero and Darin Erstad, both of whom set up the inning with base hits, scored easily, and the speedy Bourn reached third in plenty of time without having to slide.

The few scoring bursts off Sheets rewarded Brian Moehler with his ninth win of the year after he allowed two runs, one earned, over 5 1/3 innings.

Moehler felt grateful to have escaped this one with a victory, considering lately, he hasn't felt mechanically sound.

"I was very fortunate tonight," Moehler said. "I made some pitches when I had to. I didn't feel like I was leaving pitches out over the plate, but I was just fortunate tonight. We won. That's all that really matters."

The Brewers struck first, scoring one in the opening inning on an RBI double by J.J. Hardy. They logged three hits in that inning and went ahead 2-0 in the second, after Craig Counsell reached on a fielding error by Lance Berkman and scored on Mike Cameron's double to deep center.

"Moehler kind of bent, but didn't break, and battled them," Cooper said.

The defense played a role in this win as well. With one out and runners on first and second in the fourth, Hunter Pence fielded a base hit by Ray Durham and gunned down Mike Cameron with a perfect throw to the plate, beating the center fielder by several steps.

The Brewers had runners at first and second with two outs in the sixth when second baseman David Newhan made a diving stab of J.J. Hardy's grounder, ending the inning.

"Probably two of the best I've seen this year," Cooper said. "That one by Hunter, that was a great throw. [Cameron is] a pretty fast runner and he got it by a long ways. Good job by Hunter to charge the ball and throw.

"The play by Newhan really saved us. There were a couple guys on, and that ball was hit up the middle. I keep saying every time you stick someone in, they do the job. It's a team effort. We need to continue to do that."

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