Astros steamroll Brewers to end 7-game skid
By BRIAN MCTAGGART
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
After struggling to get any clutch hits or generate much of offense for a week, the Astros made it look so easy tonight at Minute Maid Park.
The Astros erupted for their biggest offensive output of the season and rode the pitching Chris Sampson to snap a seven-game losing streak with a 10-1 rout of the Milwaukee Brewers before a sellout crowd of 41,004.
Lance Berkman had a season-high three hits to pace the Astros’ 13-hit attack, and Sampson (3-1) rebounded from a terrible performance five days earlier by allowing just five hits, one run and striking out a career-high eight in 6 1/3 innings.
And the Astros finally figured out Brewers starter Dave Bush, who came into the game with a 3-0 record and 2.43 ERA in five career starts against them. Bush allowed 10 hits and eight runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Hunter Pence, called up from Class AAA Round Rock on Friday night, made an impact in his debut. Pence started in center field and went 1-for-3 with a run scored. Pence and Sampson both had their first major league hits.
The Astros broke open a tied game by scoring four runs in the fifth and five runs in the sixth. They hadn’t score more than five runs in a game since April 20, which was the last time they had won prior to Saturday.
The top three hitters in the Astros’ order – Craig Biggio, Mark Loretta and Berkman – went a combined 6-for-11 with seven RBIs. Adam Everett and Brad Ausmus also had two hits each.
The Astros’ previous season high was nine runs on April 13 at Philadelphia.
The Astros took a 1-0 lead in the third when Everett led off with a double, went to third on a Ausmus single and scored on Biggio’s sacrifice fly to left field.
The Brewers tied it in the fourth when three of the first four batters in the inning singled, including an RBI hit by Geoff Jenkins. But Sampson struck out Corey Hart and Craig Counsell in succession to strand two runners.
The bottom of the Astros’ order sparked a four-run rally in the fifth when six of the seven hitters in the inning reached base safely.
With Everett at first and two outs, Ausmus singled to right before Sampson, who ripped a single up the middle past a drawn-in infield. Sampson nearly had his first major RBI, but Everett was thrown out at the plate.
Biggio walked to load the bases for Loretta, who hit a dribbler between the mound and third-base line. Bush scurried to the ball, but his throw to the plate was wide to allow Ausmus to score and put the Astros ahead 2-1.
Berkman then ripped an 0-1 pitch down the first-base line to score Sampson and Biggio to make it 4-1. Berkman got caught in a rundown between first and second but managed to avoid the tag long enough to let Loretta score, too.
Everett stretched the lead to 7-1 in the sixth with a blistering double to the wall in left that scored Luke Scott, who had walked, and Pence, who raced home from first following his first major league hit. Biggio added a two-run triple later in the inning and Loretta an RBI single to make it 10-1.