Milwaukee at Houston

W: C. Vargas (2-0) L: W. Williams (0-4)
S: F. Cordero (10)
HR: MIL - G. Jenkins (4)   HOU - M. Lamb (1)

Vargas helps Brewers claim first series win in Houston since '97

CBS wire reports

HOUSTON -- Claudio Vargas flirted with trouble all day. Luckily for him, the Houston Astros' offense was back to its usual futility.

Vargas escaped bases-loaded jams in three straight innings and Geoff Jenkins homered to lead the Milwaukee Brewers to a 3-1 victory.

Tony Graffanino and J.J. Hardy also had run-scoring hits for the Brewers, who won a three-game series in Houston for the first time since 1997, when the Astros still played in the Astrodome.

Vargas (2-0) gave up four hits and five walks in five shutout innings, toughening up whenever the Astros threatened to score.

"Sometimes, you focus a little bit more when we get into that situation," Vargas said. "That's the place where you have to make the pitches and get out of it for the club."

Francisco Cordero shut out Houston in the ninth to improve to 10-for-10 in save chances this season.

The Brewers have won eight of their last 11 and are 13-0 when they lead after seven innings. They've reached 15 victories a month ahead of when they did last season.

"I like the way we're playing," Jenkins said. "There's definitely another level we can play to. We're happy with the way we've played, but we've got to keep getting better."

Woody Williams (0-4) allowed five hits and walked two, losing for the second time in two starts as an Astro in his hometown. He got no help from Houston's offense one day after the Astros snapped a seven-game skid with a 10-1 victory.

The Astros loaded the bases in the third, fourth and fifth and came away with nothing.

Vargas struck out Carlos Lee on three pitches to end the third, then fanned Williams and got Craig Biggio to ground out in the fourth.

In the fifth, Morgan Ensberg walked, Lee singled and Luke Scott reached on a throwing error. Rookie Hunter Pence, called up on Friday to spark the Astros' offense, then struck out and Adam Everett flew out as Vargas escaped again.

"It seems like he was in a jam every inning," Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. "But he kept making pitches when he needed to and got out of it."

Vargas has retired the last eight batters he's faced with the bases loaded. He struck out the side with the bases loaded in Pittsburgh on April 18, and the Brewers won 7-3.

"You can't do that every time you go out," Vargas said. "Some time, they're going to get a hit."

Carlos Villanueva replaced Vargas in the sixth and pinch-hitter Chris Burke doubled off the left-field scoreboard with one out. Biggio then struck out and Lance Berkman flew out around Ensberg's second walk, another missed opportunity.

Houston stranded 13 runners in the first six innings.

"They had a ton of opportunities," Jenkins said. "It was kind of a lucky victory for us. We were on eggshells out there."

Burke was benched to make room for Pence, who batted .341 in the minors. Houston manager Phil Garner doesn't anticipate any more roster moves to spur more run production.

"I do believe our offense will come around," Garner said. "I think we've got the personnel that can get it done. Obviously, it would be a good time to get that going."

Pinch-hitter Mike Lamb homered against Villanueva in the eighth. Derrick Turnbow relieved Villanueva and retired Biggio and Ensberg to finish the inning.

Cordero pitched the ninth and has not allowed a run in 12 appearances this season. He also earned a save in the Brewers' 4-1 win in the series opener.

"I'm never going to give in to anybody," he said. "They've got to beat me with my best stuff. I believe in every pitch I have."

Jenkins gave Milwaukee a 1-0 lead in the second, hammering the first pitch he saw from Williams into the left-field seats. It was Jenkins' fourth home run of the season and the sixth given up by Williams in his last four starts.

Craig Counsell led off the third inning with a single to right and eventually scored on Graffanino's two-out single through the same gap between first and second. Hardy then ripped a double to left-center and Graffanino scored easily to make it 3-0.


The Astros have stranded 54 runners in their last five games. ... Milwaukee's 15 wins in April are the third-most in franchise history. ... The Brewers open a 10-game homestand against St. Louis on Monday.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Players of the Game

M. Lamb
AB 1
R 1
H 1
HR 1

C. Vargas
IP 5.0
H 4
ER 0
BB 5
K 5

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Tony Gwynn, CF4010101 .368
Tony Graffanino, 2B4111022 .234
J.J. Hardy, SS3011100 .283
Prince Fielder, 1B3000114 .260
Geoff Jenkins, LF4111014 .348
Kevin Mench, RF4000000 .333
Damian Miller, C4010001 .269
Craig Counsell, 3B2110101 .235
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   a- Bill Hall, PH1000001 .235
    Carlos Villanueva, P0000000 .000
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   b- Gabe Gross, PH1000001 .261
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a-flied out for Vargas in the 6th
b-grounded out for Turnbow in the 9th
2B - J.J. Hardy (7, Williams)
HR - Geoff Jenkins (4, Williams)
SH - Craig Counsell (3)
RBI - Tony Graffanino (4), J.J. Hardy (17), Geoff Jenkins (11)
2-OUT RBI - Tony Graffanino (2), J.J. Hardy (5)
SB - Tony Gwynn (2, 2nd base off Wheeler/Ausmus)
CS - Prince Fielder (2, 2nd base by Qualls/Quintero)
Team LOB - 8
DP - Graffanino-Hardy-Fielder
E - Claudio Vargas (2, Throwing)
Milwaukee Brewers
Claudio Vargas (W,2-0) 5400550 3.68
Carlos Villanueva (H,4) 2.1311131 4.15
Derrick Turnbow (H,8) 0.2000010 2.19
Francisco Cordero (S,10) 1000100 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - Claudio Vargas 93-53, Carlos Villanueva 40-25, Derrick Turnbow 13-8, Francisco Cordero 13-4
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Claudio Vargas 5-6, Carlos Villanueva 1-3, Derrick Turnbow 1-0, Francisco Cordero 2-0
Batters Faced - Claudio Vargas 25, Carlos Villanueva 11, Derrick Turnbow 2, Francisco Cordero 3
Houston Astros
Craig Biggio, 2B4000124 .250
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Carlos Lee, LF5010015 .250
Luke Scott, RF5000010 .194
Hunter Pence, CF4020013 .429
Adam Everett, SS4010014 .240
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   a- Orlando Palmeiro, PH1000000 .250
    Brad Ausmus, C0000000 .276
Woody Williams, P2000024 .077
   b- Chris Burke, PH1010000 .230
    Chad Qualls, P0000000 .000
   c- Mike Lamb, PH-3B1111000 .360
a-flied out for Quintero in the 8th
b-doubled for Williams in the 6th
c-homered for Qualls in the 8th
2B - Chris Burke (9, Villanueva)
HR - Mike Lamb (1, Villanueva)
RBI - Mike Lamb (2)
SB - Adam Everett (2, 2nd base off Vargas/D. Miller)
Team LOB - 13
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Woody Williams (L,0-4) 6533211 5.66
Chad Qualls 2000120 3.09
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Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Woody Williams 8-10, Chad Qualls 2-1, Dan Wheeler 2-0
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Game Information
Attendance - 37114
Game Time - 3:05
Temperature - 83
Umpires - Home - Chad Fairchild, First Base - Marty Foster, Second Base - Tim McClelland, Third Base - Field Culbreth