for this game

Estrada's second slam leads Brewers to first-place tie

Sep 19, 2007 - 5:19 AM By Gene Duffey PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Catcher Johnny Estrada hit his second grand slam of the season against the Houston Astros as the Milwaukee Brewers posted a 9-1 victory Tuesday night to move into a tie for first place in the National League Central Division.

Cincinnati helped Milwaukee (78-72) by knocking off the Chicago Cubs (79-73), 5-2, at Wrigley Field.

Estrada broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth inning when he homered to right off rookie righthander Felipe Paulino. It was Estrada's second grand slam of his career. He hit the first June 26 off Astros reliever Rick White in Milwaukee.

"It took me five years to hit the first one," Estrada said of the grand slam. "I figured it would take me the next five years to hit another one. He left a curveball up. I hit one last night, I thought it was pretty good and it was caught at the warning track, so I didn't know.

"My numbers aren't very good with the bases loaded. I got two strikes on me and I was just trying to put the ball in play, score at least one run."

"Johnny, like a lot of guys, is picking up his brand of play lately," Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said. "His game calling, working with our starters, has been phenomenal."

The Brewers overcame the loss of starter Ben Sheets after only one inning with some brilliant bullpen work.

Sheets, who lasted just three innings in his start Friday night against Cincinnati, left with tightness in his left hamstring after warming for the bottom of the second inning.

"He just got a bit of a cramp, stiffness," Yost said. "He was real confident he didn't pull anything."

"I really don't know what is," said Sheets, who was working on three days rest. "It didn't pop. It gradually grabbed worse everytime (on my warmup pitches). I felt great in the first inning."

Sheets suffered a strained right groin in April and spent time on the disabled list in July with a sprained finger.

"Thankfully we got a great effort from the bullpen," he said. "I'm mentally fried from injuries this year. You don't want to be greedy because we won. But you want to be a part of it."

Claudio Vargas (11-4) replaced Sheets and pitched four scoreless innings. Vargas, who had made 23 starts this season, surrendered only two singles and retired the last seven batters he faced.

"Claudio was pretty much cold turkey, and he's been nursing an aching back," Estrada said.

"I don't think about it," Vargas said of not having a full warmup. "Just feel the ball, feel my pitches. I've got to do it for my team."

The Astros managed two hits and one run off Sheets in the first inning, two hits off Vargas in the second and never got another hit the rest of the game.

Seth McClung followed Vargas with two innings, striking out three. Derrick Turnbow pitched the eighth and Greg Aquino the ninth.

"It's a little early," McClung said of the bullpen being called on after only one inning. "I don't think anybody thinks they're going in in the second inning. We went out there as a group and attacked them. We made quality pitches in the zone."

The Brewers, winning their fourth in a row, didn't even need reliever Scott Linebrink or closer Francisco Cordero.

Ryan Braun got Milwaukee rolling when he tripled to center with one out in the fourth. Prince Fielder scored Braun with a broken-bat single to left for his 111th RBI of the season. That extended Fielder's hitting streak to 16 games.

Corey Hart followed with a double and Gabe Gross was walked intentionally to bring up Estrada, who hit his 10th homer of the season.

Paulino (0-1), making his first start in the majors, allowed only one hit through the first three innings, a double in the first by Joe Dillon. He struck out three, walked none and looked sharp until Braun tripled to "Tal's Hill," about 430 feet away, in the fourth.

"He had tremendous stuff," Braun said of Paulino. "He made a couple of mistakes and we were able to capitalize on them. That's about as far as I can hit one and not go out. I hit one almost the exact same spot last time I was here."

Braun also hit a two-run homer in the fifth, off reliever Trever Miller, to extend Milwaukee's lead to 7-1. It was Braun's 31st homer of the season.

"That one only went about 316 feet (336 actually)," Braun said. "That made up for the other one."

The Brewers were keeping an eye on the Cubs, who gave up three runs in the first two innings to Cincinnati and never were caught.

"It's impossible not to," Braun said of scoreboard watching. "We're aware of what was going on."

Astros reliever Dennis Sarfate, recently acquired from the Milwaukee organization, pitched two innings and struck out five of the six batters he faced.

After scoring nine runs Saturday and 15 Sunday in back-to-back wins over Pittsburgh, the Astros have just scored just one in two games vs. Milwaukee.

"The weekend was pretty exciting and guys were hitting the ball all over the place," Houston manager Cecil Cooper said. "But they get five in that one inning and that took the fans out of it."

Paulino gave up five hits and five earned runs in four innings, striking out three and walking one.

"When you're in the big leagues you can't have any mistakes," he said. "You have to study all the hitters all the time. If you watch that team they have good hitters and you have to be perfect every inning."








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    MILWAUKEE 0 0 0 5 2 0 0 0 2 9 8 0
    HOUSTON 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: MIL - BEN SHEETS, CLAUDIO VARGAS (2ND), SETH MCCLUNG (6TH), DERRICK
    TURNBOW (8TH), GREG AQUINO (9TH) AND JOHNNY ESTRADA
    HOU - FELIPE PAULINO, TREVER MILLER (5TH), D

    Sep 18 11:09 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY RICKIE WEEKS (10) TO LEFT CENTER WITH 1
    OUT IN THE 9TH OFF BRIAN MOEHLER.
    CURRENT SCORE: MILWAUKEE 9, HOUSTON 1
    DUE UP FOR MILWAUKEE: J DILLON (.368, 1-FOR-3, BB)

    Brewers vs. AstrosSep 18 10:51 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY GEOFF JENKINS (21) TO LEFT WITH 1 OUT IN
    THE 9TH OFF BRIAN MOEHLER.
    CURRENT SCORE: MILWAUKEE 8, HOUSTON 1
    DUE UP FOR MILWAUKEE: R WEEKS (.227, 0-FOR-4)

    Brewers vs. AstrosSep 18 10:50 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY RYAN BRAUN (31) TO LEFT WITH 0 OUT IN
    THE 5TH OFF TREVER MILLER SCORED JOE DILLON.
    CURRENT SCORE: MILWAUKEE 7, HOUSTON 1
    DUE UP FOR MILWAUKEE: P FIELDER (.292, 1-FOR-2, RBI)

    Brewers vs. AstrosSep 18 9:37 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    GRAND SLAM BY JOHNNY ESTRADA (10) TO RIGHT WITH 1 OUT IN
    THE 4TH OFF FELIPE PAULINO SCORED PRINCE FIELDER, COREY HART AND GABE
    GROSS.
    CURRENT SCORE: MILWAUKEE 5, HOUSTON 1
    DUE UP FOR MILWAUKEE: J HARDY (.276, 0-FOR-1)

    Brewers vs. AstrosSep 18 9:14 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY PRINCE FIELDER SCORED RYAN BRAUN.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, P FIELDER ON FIRST, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: MILWAUKEE 1
    HOUSTON 1 TOP, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR MILWAUKEE: C HART (.297, 0-FOR-1)

    Brewers vs. AstrosSep 18 9:07 PM


  • NL
    AT HOUSTON - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY LANCE BERKMAN SCORED JOSH ANDERSON.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, L BERKMAN ON FIRST, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: MILWAUKEE 0
    HOUSTON 1 BOTTOM, 1ST
    DUE UP FOR HOUSTON: C LEE (.297, 29 HR, 111 RBI)

    Brewers vs. AstrosSep 18 8:22 PM