HOUSTON -- Astros manager Phil Garner has his own magic number, and Houston moved toward it Sunday.
Wandy Rodriguez pitched a career-high 7 1/3 innings, and Lance Berkman put Houston ahead to stay with a two-run, first-inning double in a 6-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers that extended the Astros' winning streak to five.
Houston, which had just six hits, began the day with a half-game lead over Philadelphia in the NL wild-card race. The Phillies lost Sunday night at Florida, which is 2½ back of the Astros (81-68).
"This was a big win for us," Garner said. "But our goal is to get 15 games over .500 and then assess where we are."
Garner wouldn't say what was magical about 15 games over.
"I just feel if we go to 15 over we'll be in pretty good position," Garner said. "We're playing confidently now. At least we're pitching confidently. I don't know if we're hitting as confidently as I'd like."
Houston started Sunday second in the league in pitching with a team ERA of 3.52 but was next to last in team batting at .256.
"We knew our pitching staff was the backbone of the team," catcher Brad Ausmus said. "The question mark is our hitting. It isn't over yet. We've still got two weeks to go, and the offense has to come around. We're day to day with our offense."
The pitching has been especially good the last six games allowing nine runs.
"Wandy did a super job today and that was huge for us," Garner said. "Our pitching has done a marvelous job the last six games. You have to feel good any time they pitch, but I'd like to see our offense come around a little. The guys are grinding and by me saying this, it'll probably put more pressure on them."
Eric Bruntlett went 3-for-3 with four runs scored and two stolen bases as the Astros completed a three-game sweep. The Brewers think Houston is capable of winning the wild-card spot.
"Rodriguez was really good today," manager Ned Yost said. "The last time we faced him he was just OK."
Chris Capuano (17-10) gave up four runs, five hits and five walks in five innings.
"Capuano had too many walks," Yost said. "We have been struggling to get runs, and we just can't afford to put runners on base. He just struggled all day long."
Capuano had won his previous three starts and five of six.
"Today I just didn't have a great feel," he said. "My command was off. This was a terrible series for us all around, both pitching and hitting. The walks kind of hurt me. I was trying to establish the inside part of the plate. I just wasn't getting the calls."
Rodriguez (10-8) allowed one run and four hits, earning a standing ovation from the crowd as he left with one out in the eighth. Three relievers completed the five-hitter.
Bruntlett tied career highs with the three-hit game and his fourth home run of the season.
Milwaukee dropped to 73-76. The Brewers, held scoreless for 19 consecutive innings before Jeff Cirillo's RBI grounder in the eighth, are trying to avoid finishing with a losing record for the 13th consecutive season.
Berkman's double and Bruntlett's leadoff homer in the third built a 3-0 lead. Bruntlett doubled and stole third in the fifth inning, then scored on Jason Lane's single. Bruntlett singled in the seventh, stole second and scored on Jose Vizcaino's sacrifice fly to make it 5-0. Lamb added a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
|Manager Phil Garner: 'Wandy (Rodriguez) did a super job today and that was huge for us.' (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Corey Hart, CF||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||.196|
|a- Prince Fielder, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.300|
|Jorge De La Rosa, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Jeff Cirillo, 2B||4||0||2||1||0||0||1||.292|
|Lyle Overbay, 1B||4||0||1||0||0||0||1||.273|
|Carlos Lee, LF||4||0||0||0||0||0||2||.272|
|Bill Hall, SS||2||0||0||0||2||1||2||.280|
|Wes Helms, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||0||2||.293|
|Nelson Cruz, RF||2||0||0||0||1||0||1||.000|
|Chad Moeller, C||3||1||0||0||0||0||1||.209|
|Chris Capuano, P||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.152|
|b- Trent Durrington, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.273|
|Kane Davis, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Jose Capellan, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c- Chris Magruder, PH-CF||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.200|
|a-flied out for Hart in the 8th|
|b-grounded out for Capuano in the 6th|
|c-singled for Capellan in the 8th|
|2B - Jeff Cirillo (15, Rodriguez)|
|RBI - Jeff Cirillo (20)|
|2-OUT RBI - Jeff Cirillo (5)|
|CS - Bill Hall (4, 2nd base by Rodriguez/Chavez)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|DP - Helms-Cirillo-Overbay|
|Chris Capuano (L,17-10)||5||5||4||4||5||6||1||3.64|
|Jorge De La Rosa||1||0||1||1||3||0||0||4.46|
|IBB - Berkman by Chris Capuano|
|HBP - Lamb (by Chris Capuano)|
|WP - Jorge De La Rosa (6)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Chris Capuano 102-57, Kane Davis 29-16, Jose Capellan 11-8, Jorge De La Rosa 36-19|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chris Capuano 5-3, Kane Davis 2-0, Jose Capellan 1-1, Jorge De La Rosa 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Chris Capuano 25, Kane Davis 6, Jose Capellan 3, Jorge De La Rosa 6|
|Craig Biggio, 2B||4||0||0||0||1||1||1||.264|
|Eric Bruntlett, CF||3||4||3||1||2||0||0||.237|
|Mike Lamb, 3B||2||1||0||1||1||0||1||.227|
|Lance Berkman, 1B||3||0||1||2||2||1||2||.293|
|Jason Lane, RF||4||0||1||1||0||1||4||.257|
|Jose Vizcaino, SS||1||0||0||1||2||1||0||.256|
|Charles Gipson, LF||4||0||0||0||0||2||7||.182|
|Raul Chavez, C||3||0||0||0||1||2||0||.168|
|Wandy Rodriguez, P||3||0||1||0||0||0||1||.162|
|Dan Wheeler, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Morgan Ensberg, PH||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||.279|
|Willy Taveras, PR||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||.290|
|Mike Gallo, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Chad Qualls, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-walked for Wheeler in the 8th|
|2B - Eric Bruntlett (5, Capuano), Lance Berkman (34, Capuano)|
|HR - Eric Bruntlett (4, Capuano)|
|SF - Mike Lamb (4), Jose Vizcaino (2)|
|RBI - Eric Bruntlett (14), Mike Lamb (47), Lance Berkman 2 (68), Jason Lane (72), Jose Vizcaino (20)|
|2-OUT RBI - Jason Lane (24)|
|SB - Eric Bruntlett 2 (7, 3rd base off Capuano/Moeller, 2nd base off Davis/Moeller)|
|Team LOB - 10|
|Wandy Rodriguez (W,10-8)||7.1||4||1||1||2||1||0||5.43|
|Pitches-Strikes - Wandy Rodriguez 100-63, Dan Wheeler 11-7, Mike Gallo 1-1, Chad Qualls 12-6|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Wandy Rodriguez 11-9, Chad Qualls 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Wandy Rodriguez 27, Dan Wheeler 2, Mike Gallo 1, Chad Qualls 3|
|Attendance - 35052|
|Game Time - 3:08|
|Temperature - 72|
|Umpires - Home - Jeff Kellogg, First Base - Paul Schrieber, Second Base - Mike Reilly, Third Base - Andy Fletcher|