Braun powers Brewers to ninth win in 10 games

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Ryan Braun is not scoreboard watching -- yet. He does know, however, exactly where the Milwaukee Brewers are in the NL Central standings: tied for first place with the Chicago Cubs.

Braun homered and drove in four runs, Bill Hall hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the eighth inning and the Brewers grabbed a share of the NL Central lead with a 6-4 victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday night.

Milwaukee has won nine of 10 to tie the Cubs, who lost 3-2 to the Florida Marlins in 12 innings Saturday.

"It really is pretty incredible to make up five games this quickly," Braun said, alluding to the five-game lead the Cubs had over the Brewers at the All-Star break, just nine games ago.

"The roles are kind of reversed," Braun said. "The pressure is on them this year. All the expectations are on them. We learned a lot last year, the importance and significance of every game and not really focusing on what the Cubs are doing or what the Cardinals are doing, but focusing on ourselves. We've done a good job of that so far."

Eric Gagne (4-2) pitched a perfect eighth to get the win, and Salomon Torres got three outs for his 20th save in 24 chances. Ray Durham doubled twice and scored three runs.

The Brewers tied it with two runs in the seventh and went in front in the eighth. Corey Hart hit Doug Brocail's first pitch of the eighth for a double and Hall followed with a bloop single to right-center on the next offering.

Hall went to second on a balk by Brocail (4-5), and later scored on a groundout by Jason Kendall to make it 6-4.

"I think everybody wants to be up there late in the ballgame and have a chance to do something big for your team," Hall said. "In that situation, I am just trying to get Corey to third because it's a big run for us. I was just trying to hit a ground ball to second base and ended up hitting the bottom half of the ball for it to be a single."

Braun tied it at four with a line-drive, two-run homer in the seventh. It was Braun's 27th of the season and third in his last four games.

Miguel Tejada snapped an 0-for-16 slide with four hits, all singles, for Houston. Lance Berkman had two hits to give him 1,400 for his career.

Astros starter Brandon Backe gave up two runs and four hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked four.

"I'm pretty happy with what I did, but it's all washed away because of the loss," Backe said.

Dave Bush gave up four runs in five innings for the Brewers in his first start as half of a home-road platoon with Seth McClung. Under the platoon, Bush, who has a 21-12 career mark at Miller Park, will pitch home games, and McClung will pitch on the road.

Durham, making his second start at second base since being acquired from the San Francisco Giants on Sunday, helped Milwaukee get off to a fast start. He doubled in the first and third and scored on Braun sacrifice flies.

Houston took the lead with a three-run third. Tejada hit a leadoff single and scored on Carlos Lee's 23rd homer. Lee extended his hitting streak to 11 games with the drive, and he has reached base in 23 straight.

Hunter Pence added his 13th homer to make it 3-2.

The Astros added another run in the fifth on Berkman's RBI single. The Astros had 14 hits.

"It was a tough night," Houston manager Cecil Cooper said. "I wish we would have chipped in with another run or two. We had some chances to really break the game open."

Instead, it was the Brewers coming back to surge into first place. The Brewers and Cubs open a four-game series Monday at Miller Park.

"It's been nice," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "My focus, and you can focus on it all you want, was to be within striking distance of the Cubs when they came to town, somehow find a way to get within a couple of games, and we have accomplished that right now."

Game notes
Houston center fielder Michael Bourn sprained his right ankle while sliding to break up a double play in the sixth inning and left the game. He was listed as day to day. ... LHP Randy Wolf makes his first start Sunday for the Astros after Houston acquired him from the San Diego Padres on Tuesday. ... RHP Roy Oswalt (left hip strain) is scheduled to come off the disabled list and start Monday against the Cincinnati Reds. He hasn't pitched since throwing one inning on July 11. ... The crowd of 43,489 marked the Brewers' 22nd sellout of the season and sixth straight.