Brewers slugger Prince Fielder and Corey Hart each blasted a solo homer, while catcher Jonathan Lucroy had three hits, to give starter Yovani Gallardo with plenty of run support Saturday night in Milwaukee’s 6-2 victory over the Houston Astros at Miller Park.
It marked the first game for the Astros since trading two-time All-Star and fan favorite Hunter Pence to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Astros manager Brad Mills’ new-look lineup, which included Jason Bourgeois hitting in the No. 3 hole and playing right field rather than Pence, didn’t fare too well against Gallardo, who allowed an unearned run on four hits with no walks and seven strikeouts over 111 pitches (77 for strikes) in seven innings.
Gallardo (12-7) improved to 6-0 in his last nine games against the Astros and helped to extend the Brewers’ winning streak to five games.
“He was pretty good today,” Mills said. “His velocity was up there at 94 of 95 mph while throwing his offspeed stuff, as well. The velocity was enough to throw us off of his offspeed stuff.”
Hart, who finished with four hits, set the tone for Milwaukee’s offensive attack with a leadoff homer in the first off Houston starter J.A. Happ.
Gallardo helped himself with the bat by leading off the third with a double and wound up advancing to third on Hart’s single to left.
Nyjer Morgan drove in Gallardo with an RBI single.
Happ was able to work out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam by striking out Felipe Lopez and retiring Casey McGehee on a liner.
The Brewers took a commanding 5-0 with a three-run fifth, thanks in part to McGehee’s sacrifice fly and Lucroy’s two-run double.
Happ (4-13) allowed five runs (two earned) on 10 hits with no walks and six strikeouts over five innings to tie Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Hiroki Kuroda for the most losses in the NL.
“There’s no doubt he threw the ball really well,” Mills said. “No walks and he threw a lot of strikes. With the two earned runs, he deserved a lot better. Their guy [Gallardo] threw the ball pretty well, but it was sure nice to see J.A. continue to make progress.
“He’s throwing strikes with just about all of his pitches now. He threw a couple of solid changeups that I thought were pretty good.”
Astros rookie Jose Altuve hit a sixth-inning leadoff infield single and advanced to second on Yuniesky Betancourt’s throwing error.
Altuve scored on Angel Sanchez’s RBI single, making it 5-1.
Fielder closed the book on Houston with a towering 475-foot homer to right — his 24th of the season — off Astros reliever Aneury Rodriguez in the seventh.
It was the second longest home run in Miller Park history.
The best moment on the night for the Astros came in the eighth when rookie J.D. Martinez strolled to the plate as a pinch-hitter.
He blasted an RBI double to center — his first career major league hit — off reliever Marco Estrada to score Humberto Quintero.
Martinez joined the Astros prior to the game after having his contract purchased on Friday night from Double-A Corpus Christi.
“It was exciting to go up to the plate, and in my mind, I just wanted to hit something hard,” Martinez said. “I was saying, ‘Don’t embarrass yourself, just hit something hard.’ I got lucky that he [Estrada] left a fastball up and I put a pretty good swing on it.
“First pitch was a curve and the second one, my eyes lit up.”
Mills couldn’t be more proud of Altuve and Martinez, both of whom skipped over Triple-A to join the Astros as rookies this season.
“They did a great job,” Mills said. “Altuve started the [sixth] inning off with a hit and J.D. put a charge into that ball and got his first major league hit.”
Kameron Loe tossed a scoreless ninth.
Houston went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and fell to 2-7 on their current 10-game road trip, which concludes Sunday.
With the non-waiver trade deadline on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. ET, there’s a possibility of Houston dealing Michael Bourn, Brett Myers or Wandy Rodriguez, especially with general manager Ed Wade listening to offers after trading Pence to Philly.
Myers (3-11, 4.66 ERA) will get the starting nod in the series finale against Brewers left-hander Chris Narveson (7-6, 4.41 ERA).
First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. CT.
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