Thriving Bush helps Brewers choke Astros' offense

MILWAUKEE(AP) -- With five wins since Aug. 1, including a
five-hit shutout on Sunday, Dave Bush is probably pitching as well
as he ever has.

Bush struck out a season-high 10 in his third career shutout,
leading the Milwaukee Brewers to a 4-0 victory over the Houston

"It just seems like each start he is getting better and
better," Brewers center fielder Brady Clark said, citing Bush's
recent "swagger" on the mound. "The confidence has built up. He
is confident in his stuff, and he is confident in his ability to
locate his pitches."

It was the second shutout this season for Bush (11-10), who has
three complete games this year and six in his career.

The right-hander walked none and allowed only one runner past
second base. He struck out two batters each in the first, third and
fifth, and fell one strikeout shy of his career high as he threw 85
of his 116 pitches for strikes.

"He was lights out from the first pitch on," Milwaukee manager
Ned Yost said. "He was very, very sharp."

And the Astros' hitters noticed.

"He put the ball where he wanted and he carved us up," right
fielder Aubrey Huff said.

Tony Graffanino and Mike Rivera homered for Milwaukee, which had
lost 13 of 15 games overall and 10 of 14 against the Astros this

Wandy Rodriguez (9-9) lost his fourth straight decision dating
to July 7, giving up three runs and five hits in five innings. He
struck out five and walked two.

Houston (70-72) was trying to get back to .500 for the first
time since July 6. Instead, the punchless Astros were blanked for
the 12th time this year, one night after a 10-4 win.

"This club is a mystery," manager Phil Garner said. "It's
been this way all year. If you're going to be in a pennant race
you've got to somehow figure out how to win these games. That's
what we haven't done."

Bush struck out 11 on Oct. 1, 2004, when he tossed a two-hitter
for Toronto in a win over the New York Yankees. He came to
Milwaukee after last season in the deal that sent Lyle Overbay to
the Blue Jays.

Bush pitched a four-hit shutout in a victory over Cincinnati on
April 22.

He has not given up a run in his last two starts against the
Astros. He tossed seven scoreless innings but got a no-decision
Aug. 30 at Houston.

Bush said the team's starting pitching as a whole has improved.

"In spring training that is what everybody would have hoped
for," Bush said. "You are going to have ups and downs during the
year, and as a staff we had some stretches where we didn't throw so
well. But with everyone healthy again we're back to where we want
to be. It's a few months later than we would like."

Graffanino homered in the first inning -- his first since joining
the Brewers on July 25.

Corey Hart extended the lead in the third with a two-run double.
Hart has 10 hits in his last 22 at-bats and 12 RBI in his last six
games. Rivera homered in the seventh.

"I am seeing the ball pretty good right now," said Hart, who
became a full-time player about a month ago. "I am starting to
recognize pitches a little quicker, especially from the righties.

"It has taken a while to get comfortable up there. It takes

It looked as though Bush would have to leave the game in the
seventh, when Huff hit a line drive off his right thigh. Bush
gathered the ball, threw Huff out at first and remained in the game
after trainers examined him on the mound.

"That was a great play to throw his body in front of that line
drive. That was a big out," Yost said.

Said Bush: "I don't think I really did a whole lot except stand
there. Fortunately, it hit me flush."

Houston's Orlando Palmeiro doubled in the sixth for his 100th
career pinch hit.

Game notes
Palmeiro is the 18th player in major league history with at
least 100 career pinch hits. He has 15 pinch hits this season. ...
The Astros entered play in second place for the first time since
July 6, when they were 43-43. ... Houston has yet to announce a
starter for Tuesday's game against St. Louis.