Pena: 'It was a fun game for us'
The Astros were excited upon Justin Maxwell’s return to the club on Tuesday after missing 51 team games from a broken left hand and rehab assignment. Matt Dominguez and Carlos Pena added to the excitement with home runs.
Dominguez hit his first career grand slam and Pena had a three-run homer to power the Astros past the Milwaukee Brewers 10-1 at Minute Maid Park. Jordan Lyles (4-1) had another outstanding pitching performance to earn the win.
Since May 15 the Astros are 17-15 and have one less win than the Brewers on the season.
Maxwell went 0-for-2 with two runs, two walks and a strikeout. His fourth-inning run put the Astros up 2-1.
Astros manager Bo Porter has been reaping praise on Lyles in his last six or seven starts. And Tuesday was another stellar pitching performance for the 22-year-old. In seven innings he allowed only one run with no walks and five strikeouts.
After giving up one run in the third inning, Lyles faced a bases-loaded, one-out situation with Astros killer Aramis Ramirez at the plate. Lyles struck out Ramirez for the second out and ended the inning by getting Jonathan Lucroy to ground to third base.
Pena’s three-run homer, which curled inside the right-field foul pole in the fifth inning, chased Milwaukee starter Alfredo Figaro. In 4 1/3 innings, the right-hander allowed five runs, four earned, and five hits with three strikeouts and two walks.
Paul Clemens pitched two scoreless innings for Houston.
AT THE PLATE
This was the fourth time this season the Astros scored in double digits. There was a lot to cheer about for Astros fans in addition to Maxwell’s return. Dominguez’s five RBIs were a career high. Pena’s homer gave the Astros a 5-1 lead. Chris Carter doubled in pinch runner Trevor Crowe in the seventh for a 6-1 lead.
For a guy who came into the game hitting only .210, Juan Francisco displayed some power off Lyles. In his first at-bat, Francisco hit a shot to deep center that bounced once off of Tal’s Hill and hit the base of the flag pole, which is in play. On his second at-bat, the Milwaukee first baseman hit another shot, this one off the left-field scoreboard for a double.
Ramirez, who has made a living over the years hitting Houston pitching, was held in check. He went 0-for-4.
IN THE FIELD
Usually this category is reserved for Astros center fielder Brandon Barnes.
On Tuesday Milwaukee center fielder Carlos Gomez had the catch of the day, robbing Jason Castro of an extra-base hit in the seventh inning. Gomez had to run up Tal’s Hill in center field and fell while making a semi over-the-shoulder catch about 420 feet from home plate. Gomez caught two balls on the warning track hit by Castro.
Milwaukee right fielder Norichika Aoki made a sliding catch on a ball hit by Jose Altuve for the first out in the eighth inning.
The Astros scored a run in the fourth inning playing smart, aggressive small ball. They utilized a hit-and-run to perfection and a squeeze bunt by Marwin Gonzalez scored Maxwell, giving the Astros a 2-1 lead. Maxwell, who had a one-out walk, advanced from first to third on the hit and run and single by Dominguez. The hit-and-run opened up a hole at second base. If not for second baseman Scooter Gennett breaking towards the bag, Maxwell would have been forced out at second base.
Wednesday is the second of a three-game series for Houston with its former NL Central Division rival Milwaukee.
After facing four left-handed starting pitchers in the series with the White Sox, the Astros are scheduled to face right-handed starters in all three games with Milwaukee. On Wednesday, the Astros will throw Erik Bedard (2-3, 4.82 ERA) vs. Kyle Lohse (2-6, 3.84 ERA). On Thursday the matchups are RHP Lucas Harrell (5-7, 4.48 ERA) for Houston vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo (6-6, 4.41 ERA).
Wednesday’s game starts at 7:10 p.m. Thursday’s game will start at 1:10 p.m.
In Bedard’s last outing he got the best of the White Sox’s Chris Sale, allowing only one unearned run