MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Geoff Blum has had little trouble launching breakballs thrown by Jeff Suppan, so the Milwaukee Brewers right-hander peppered him with a steady supply of fastballs on Sunday.
• The Brewers lost for just the second time in their last 11 games.
• Geoff Blum took Milwaukee starter Jeff Suppan deep twice. Blum is batting .542 against Suppan.
• Brewers slugger Ryan Braun went 3-for-5 with a homer. He is hitting .632 over his last five games with four home runs and nine RBIs.
-- ESPN.com research and The Associated Press
It didn't help Suppan a bit.Blum hit a pair of Suppan's fastballs for home runs, including a three-run shot that capped a seven-run fifth, and the Houston Astros beat the Milwaukee Brewers 11-6 on Sunday.With the loss, the Brewers fell a game behind Chicago in the NL Central. The Cubs beat the Marlins 9-6 in Chicago. On Monday, the Cubs travel to Milwaukee to begin an important four-game series.Blum was 11-of-21 against Suppan coming into the game, and the Brewers starter changed his strategy against the utility infielder."He pitched me completely different than he has in the past," Blum said. "Fortunately, he left a couple over the plate and I connected."Blum hit a solo home run in the second and a two-out, three-run homer in the fifth that gave Houston an 8-4 lead. He's now batting .542 (13-24) against Suppan."That's why he was in there," Houston manager Cecil Cooper said. "You try to match them up as best you can. Sometime it doesn't work out that way, but today it worked well."Reliever Chris Sampson (5-3) pitched out of a jam in the bottom of the fifth and was credited with the victory when starter Randy Wolf couldn't go five innings in his first appearance since being obtained in a trade from San Diego.Sampson pitched 2 2/3 innings, giving up a run and two hits while striking out two."The main challenge was preserving the lead for us for the win," Sampson said.Brad Ausmus went 4-for-4, all singles, with two runs scored and an RBI to lead Houston's season-high 16-hit attack. Miguel Tejada had a pair of singles and three RBI, and the Astros went 6-for-14 with runners in scoring position."That's the one thing we've been missing offensively: we can get guys on but we never seem to bust things open and put teams away," Cooper said. "Today was probably the first time in a long, long time that we've done that."Milwaukee's Ryan Braun hit a two-run homer in the third to give Milwaukee a 4-1 lead. It was his 28th homer of the year and his eighth in the Brewers' last 20 games.Houston took the lead for good in the fifth on an RBI single by Ausmus, an RBI groundout by Kaz Matsui and a two-run single by Tejada off the glove of second baseman Rickie Weeks. The play originally was ruled an error by official scorer Tim O'Driscoll, but was changed to a single one inning later.Lance Berkman followed with a single and Blum hit his second home run of the game and eighth this season to make it 8-4."It kind of just snowballed on him in the fifth inning," manager Ned Yost said of Suppan. "He got to two outs and was one pitch away, and then Blum hits a three-run homer."Suppan continued his July struggles, giving up eight runs and 11 hits in six innings. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 9.43 ERA in four starts this month."I kept trying to make pitches and I wasn't really getting them where I wanted them to," Suppan said.Wolf pitched 4 1/3 innings, giving up four runs, three earned, and seven hits with three walks. He struck out three, but was removed in the fifth after throwing 101 pitches and Houston leading 8-4."Quite frankly, I was lucky to not give up nine runs with what I had going on," Wolf said.Sampson entered with Brewers on first and second, but retired Bill Hall and Gabe Kapler to end Milwaukee's threat.
It was Ausmus' first four-hit game since July 31, 2004 at Cincinnati. He has 10 four-hit games in his career. ... Houston grounded into three double plays in the first seven innings. ... The Brewers have hit at least one homer in 22 of their last 23 games.