Nine-run sixth inning rallies Brewers past Astros

Brewers 11, Astros 5

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The Milwaukee Brewers capitalized on a big break while the Houston Astros can't seem to catch one.

Johnny Estrada's grand slam highlighted a nine-run sixth inning and the Brewers rallied to beat the Houston Astros 11-5 on Tuesday night.

Tony Graffanino added a pinch-hit, two-run homer and Rickie Weeks, batting .196 with runners in scoring position, delivered a bases-loaded single in the same inning as the Brewers blew the game open.

"We're not getting it done," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "What makes matters worse is we're giving up a lot of runs. We can't keep the ball in the ballpark. We're not making good pitches. We're not keeping the game close and it's hard on us."

The lone bright spot was Craig Biggio, who inched closer to the 3,000 hit mark with a single, leaving him three shy of becoming the 27th player to reach that milestone.

"It's nice," Biggio said of his hit. "But once again, it's a disappointing loss and that's the most important thing. They swung the bats real well."

The NL Central-leading Brewers have won 11 of 13 since Detroit's Justin Verlander threw a no-hitter on June 12.

"We keep coming across the wrong team at the wrong time right now because everybody's hot," Biggio said. "We can't sit here and cry about it, we've got to be able to turn around and get it done."

The Astros, with one game left of a nine-game road trip, have lost six of their last eight.

The 41-year-old second baseman played Tuesday night after being held out of the lineup Monday. He won't play Wednesday, setting the stage for reaching the historic plateau at home when the Astros begin a four-game series against Colorado on Thursday.

"It's standard policy for day games [following night games]," Biggio said. "But you're always available for a double-switch or pinch-hitting or whatever way the game takes us. That hasn't changed."

Biggio, who was 1-for-13 against Milwaukee starter Claudio Vargas, lined the first pitch down the third-base line for a hit in the third inning. Biggio took a called third strike in the first, flied out in the fifth and grounded out in the seventh.

Trailing 4-2, the Brewers chased Astros' starter Wandy Rodriguez (4-7) with three runs and then tacked on six more off reliever Rick White in the sixth. It was the most runs in an inning this season by the Brewers, surpassing the seven Milwaukee scored in the sixth inning against St. Louis on May 1.

Bill Hall and Estrada reached on walks and Kevin Mench blooped a hit into left. Weeks followed with a sinking line drive that skipped under the glove of right-fielder Luke Scott for an error. Hall, Estrada and Mench scored on the play that ended Rodriguez's night. Rick White relieved and Graffanino hit the first pitch for his fourth career pinch-hit home run.

"Obviously, we caught a break when the ball got by the outfielder, but when you get in those situations, you want to keep the line moving," Graffanino said.

The Brewers loaded the bases on a walk, a double by Ryan Braun and an intentional walk to Prince Fielder. Estrada followed with his first career grand slam to close out the scoring.

"We walked three guys four, actually, one was intentional," Garner said. "Then we just couldn't make a pitch."

Rodriguez went five innings, allowing six runs and seven hits with four walks and five strikeouts. Before the disastrous sixth, Rodriguez's only mistake was an 0-2 pitch that Braun hit for a two-run homer in the Brewers' first inning.

Carlos Lee's two-run shot in the sixth broke a 2-2 tie. He tied Fielder for the NL lead with 62 RBIs.

Lance Berkman walked and Lee followed with his 14th home run. After Mark Loretta singled and Mike Lamb reached on first baseman Fielder's throwing error on a play at second, Vargas was pulled from the game.

Reliever Matt Wise (2-1) picked up the victory after he stopped the Astros from doing any further damage in the sixth when Scott hit into a double play and Rodriguez hit into a fielder's choice.

Vargas went five plus innings, allowing four runs and five hits. He struck out six and walked three as he tried to win his fourth straight decision.

Scott and Brad Ausmus hit back-to-back home runs with two out in the Astros' second to tie the game 2-2.

It was the first time Houston has hit consecutive home runs since Aug. 9, 2006 when Aubrey Huff and Scott connected at home off Pittsburgh's Victor Santos.

Scott added a solo homer in the ninth for his second career multi-homer game.

Game notes
RF Corey Hart's bloop single in the first extended his career-high hitting streak to 13 games. ... The Brewers are an NL-best 29-13 at home. ... Houston slipped to 15-27 on the road -- the worst mark in the NL. ... Scott's other two-homer game was Sept. 23 at St. Louis. ... Hart had the Brewers' previous pinch-hit home run on June 2 against Florida.