MILWAUKEE (AP) — Adrian Houser's emergence is providing a major boost for the Milwaukee Brewers' decimated pitching staff.
Houser allowed two hits in 5 1/3 innings and the Brewers homered three times in a 4-0 victory over the Houston Astros on Wednesday. This comes five days after Houser pitched six shutout innings in a 1-0 loss at Tampa Bay.
His surge is a huge lift for a Brewers pitching staff that is dealing with shoulder injuries to two-time All-Star Brandon Woodruff, Eric Lauer, Wade Miley and Aaron Ashby.
“We’re thin on starting pitching right now, but you can’t put pressure on yourself," Houser said. “The game’s already hard enough as it is. So you just have to go out there, have fun, relax and go compete your butt off.”
That was more than enough offense for Houser (1-0), who struck out three and walked one in just his fourth appearance of the season.
Houser's surge is a bit of a surprise after he went 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA last year. The 30-year-old right-hander likely would have opened this season in the bullpen if he hadn’t been on the injured list.
He instead spent April recovering from a right groin strain. He's pitched exceptionally since his return. Houser's performance Wednesday lowered his ERA to 2.25.
“I prepared myself as a starter,” Houser said. “That’s what I think I am. When I put in my work, that’s what I plan to do. So to be able to come here and help the team contribute after a short IL stint has been big.”
Houser helped the Brewers bounce back from a tough start to this series.
After homering four times off 2021 NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes and posting their highest hits and runs totals this season in a 12-2 victory Monday, the Astros have been shut out in consecutive games — they were blanked once in their first 47. Colin Rea and four relievers combined on a five-hitter Tuesday in the Brewers' 6-0 triumph that ended Houston's eight-game winning streak.
“They didn't walk many people,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “That was their success. They were getting ahead of us. We were in the fifth inning before we knew it.”
Indeed, this game lasted just 2 hours, 9 minutes, the Brewers' fastest nine-inning home game since Sept. 6, 2008. The Astros mustered four hits, two off their season low.
The Brewers wasted no time taking the lead against Brandon Bielak (1-2). After Christian Yelich led off the first with a double to left, Willy Adames delivered a 429-foot drive over the center-field wall.
Bielak held the Brewers in check from there before running out of gas in the seventh, when Miller hit a leadoff homer to center and Anderson added a two-out shot to right-center. Miller, who homered for the second straight game, is batting .400 (24 of 60) this month.
“He really killed us this series,” Baker said. “Usually when we lose a series, there's one guy that's a thorn in our side. He was the thorn this series.”
Houston's best chance came in the sixth inning. Trailing 2-0, the Astros put runners on third and second with one out after Mauricio Dubón reached on an error by first baseman Rowdy Tellez and Alex Bregman doubled.
Joel Payamps took over for Houser and got out of the jam by striking out Yordan Alvarez and retiring Kyle Tucker on a fly to center.
Payamps has inherited 13 runners this season. Only one of them has scored.
“(Alvarez is) a great hitter but you have to go after him,” Payamps said through an interpreter.. “You have to attack. You have to make something happen. Thankfully, it went my way.”
Bryse Wilson, Jake Cousins and Hoby Milner combined to allow two hits and no walks over the final three innings.
Astros: 2B Jose Altuve wasn't in the lineup after leaving Tuesday's game with an illness. Baker noted this would give the eight-time All-Star two days to get better before their weekend series at Oakland since the Astros are off Thursday.
Astros: Off Thursday before beginning a three-game series at Oakland on Friday.
Brewers: Start a four-game home series with the San Francisco Giants on Thursday.