Houston stuck 2 1/2 out of NL wild card

MILWAUKEE -- Wes Obermueller pitched the game of his life
and prevented the Houston Astros from making up ground in the NL
wild-card race.

Obermueller (6-8) pitched a six-hitter for his first career
shutout, leading the last-place Milwaukee Brewers to an 8-0 victory

With Chicago's 4-3 loss to the New York Mets in 11 innings,
Houston remained 2 games behind the Cubs. The Astros only have
seven games left, while the Cubs have eight.

"This could be the season," Houston starter Pete Munro said.
"It's a tough loss to take. We just ran into the wrong team at the
wrong time."

Obermueller struck out three, walked one and retired the final
13 batters he faced in his first career complete game. He also had
two singles and scored a run.

"We know what they have at stake, so there's a little more fire
there," he said.

Obermueller appreciated getting the opportunity from manager Ned
Yost to finish the game.

"It was just awesome to go out there in the ninth inning when
Ned said, 'It's your game. Go get 'em!'"

Munro (4-7) gave up three runs -- two earned -- and five hits in
four innings.

"Pete did a fine job," Houston manager Phil Garner said. "It
wasn't Pete's pitching. It was our offense."

Obermueller lowered his ERA to 5.86 from 6.35, and he is 3-3 since
being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on Aug. 7.

Yost said the right-hander made progress during the season,
noting that the 27-year-old did not start pitching until his senior
year in college.

"His consistency has improved over the second half this year,"
he said. "With Wes, you know it's going to be a learning process
because he's a young pitcher in experience. It's not like the kid
has been pitching his whole life."

Russell Branyan homered, doubled and drove in three runs and
Keith Ginter also hit a home run for the Brewers, who snapped a
three-game losing streak.

"We scored early for Wes, took some pressure off him in a big
game and we were able to pile on some runs," Branyan said.

Branyan hit his 11th homer in the second to give Milwaukee a 1-0
lead, and Dave Krynzel's RBI single made
it 2-0 Brewers in the third.

Craig Counsell doubled down the left-field line in the fourth,
and the ball got past Craig Biggio for an error, allowing Ginter to

Milwaukee sent eight to the plate in the fifth and scored four
runs. With one out, Scott Podsednik singled off reliever Tim Redding and stole second and third, giving him a major league-leading 64 stolen bases.

Krynzel walked and Lyle Overbay singled, scoring both runners
for a 5-0 lead.

Mike Gallo came in and gave up a single to Geoff Jenkins. Chad Harville then relieved and struck out Ginter, but gave up a two-run double to Branyan to give the Brewers a 7-0 lead.

Houston had its best chance in the fifth but failed to score.
With two outs and runners at first and second, Obermueller got
Lance Berkman to ground out.

"That was a big out for him, for sure," Yost said. "I'm not
sure, that in the beginning of the year, that he would have gone
after him as aggressively."

Ginter hit his 15th homer in the seventh.

Game notes
Obermueller's best previous start came on Sept. 27, 2003,
when he limited the Astros to two runs in eight innings in
Milwaukee's 5-2 victory. That loss eliminated the Astros last year.
... The Brewers are 7-13 in Obermueller's 20 starts. ... The
Brewers will be involved in a marquee pitching matchup Monday at
Arizona. The game between the two worst teams in the NL will
feature Milwaukee's Ben Sheets against Randy Johnson.