Carlos Lee had a tiebreaking RBI single in the eighth inning among his three hits and the Colorado Rockies failed to build on their three-run first against Moehler as the Astros rallied for a 4-3 win Tuesday night.
"I can't explain tonight," said the Rockies' Clint Barmes, who was 0-for-2 with an intentional walk. "We hit him hard in the first, jumped him, and then couldn't put anything else together. We couldn't get anybody on base at the end."
Moehler gave up four hits and all three runs before registering his first out but then slammed the door shut over the rest of his six-inning outing. The Rockies failed to get a hit against the Houston bullpen over the final three innings, with Wilton Lopez (3-0) pitching a 1-2-3 seventh for the win and Matt Lindstrom getting three outs for his 14th save in 17 chances.
"A starter's job is to keep his team in the game and we did that tonight," Moehler said. "That first inning, they got some hits on balls that weren't bad pitches. I made an adjustment, going inside a little bit more after that, and that seemed to help."
The bullpen took over from there, improving the Astros' record to 13-10 when their relievers don't allow any runs.
Houston manager Brad Mills said Moehler's recovery set the stage for success, buying time for the offense to get untracked before handing the game over to the bullpen, which has been a team strength.
"They've been nails, the heart and soul of the ballclub for most of the year," Mills said.
Colorado starter Jeff Francis left after seven innings with a 3-2 lead but the Rockies' bullpen could not protect it.
Pinch-hitter Michael Bourn singled off Matt Belisle (1-2) to start the eighth. Bourn went to second on a balk and advanced to third on Tommy Manzella's one-out bunt single, which caught third baseman Melvin Mora playing back. Franklin Morales relieved and Lance Berkman reached on an RBI fielder's choice.
Rafael Betancourt relieved, and after Berkman stole second, Lee hit a broken-bat single to give the Astros their first lead.
"This is baseball," Belisle said. "Sometimes you go through streaks where you can't finish and it swings like this. You have to get after them and play it the right way. The balk is something that can't happen at that time. It can't happen. It is all on me."
The Astros pulled to 3-1 in the fourth when Jeff Keppinger doubled and scored on Manzella's single. They cut the deficit to one in the seventh when Lee doubled down the third-base line, went to third on Hunter Pence's fly ball and scored on Pedro Feliz's groundout.
Keppinger singled in the first to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. It's his longest streak since a career-best 14 straight from Aug. 11-25, 2007. ... Astros pitcher Bud Norris, on the 15-day DL with bursitis and biceps tendinitis, experienced tightness and discomfort during a three-inning, 45-pitch simulated game at Round Rock on Monday. He's receiving treatment and will continue his throwing program to tolerance. ... Mora made his second straight start for Ian Stewart, who is resting a sore right shin. Stewart fouled a ball off the shin during the Arizona series last week. ... Colorado reliever Huston Street (right shoulder inflammation) will take the next two days off before making consecutive appearances in his rehab assignment. ... Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa (left middle finger) came out of a 30-pitch bullpen session without any numbness in the finger.