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Brewers Win On Braun's Homer

A second consecutive late-inning rally might be just what the Milwaukee Brewers need to shake their recent slump.

Ryan Braun hit a three-run homer and Prince Fielder followed with a solo shot, both off Astros closer Brad Lidge, as the Brewers rallied in the ninth to defeat Houston 7-4 Saturday night.

After a 5-4 victory in 11 innings Friday snapped a four-game losing streak, the Brewers have pulled back in front of the Chicago Cubs by 1 1/2 games in the NL Central.

"We've kind of been on the skids lately," said reliever Scott Linebrink, whose club had lost 11 of 15 entering the Houston series. "This is the kind of victory that'll get you back on track."

Trailing 4-3, J.J. Hardy and Joe Dillon singled and Rickie Weeks reached on a fielder's choice before Braun hit his two-out shot. Fielder followed with a drive to right, his NL-leading 36th of the year.

Braun's homer, his 22nd of the season, put the Brewers on top after trailing 4-0 early. Milwaukee got one back in the seventh, two in the eighth and four in the ninth for its 26th come-from-behind victory this season.

"I was just looking for something to center," Braun said of his home run. "Everybody had great at-bats ahead of me to get us there. It definitely was the biggest home run of my big league career.

"I was yelling all the way around the bases and I think I almost lost my voice."

Linebrink (4-3) pitched the eighth inning for the Brewers, who won their second straight over Houston. Francisco Cordero pitched the ninth for his 36th save in 42 chances.

Wandy Rodriguez allowed one run and six hits in seven innings, striking out four and walking three. He is 6-2 with a 1.65 ERA at home and 1-8 with an 8.16 ERA on the road.

It was the 36th time this season Houston has lost after leading.

"We've had a lot of tough ones this year, but this is one of the tougher ones because of how well Wandy pitched and how well we had it going early," manager Phil Garner said. "We made some mistakes and they made us pay.

"I thought the pitch to Braun was a good pitch. It was down in the zone, a good slider, and I don't think it would have been called a strike if he had taken it."

Lidge (3-2) offered no excuses after giving up four runs on four hits in blowing his fifth save in 12 chances opportunities.

"It was an interesting inning," Lidge said. "I was able to get just one pitch away with my good slider. I threw it down (to Braun) and I was figuring with two strikes, he'd go down and swing and miss.

"But somehow he went down and hit a home run. I was surprised and I wouldn't change the pitch at all. It was my pitch and he hit it and I guess you have to tip your hat."

Carlos Lee had a pair of doubles and two RBIs for the Astros.

Jeff Suppan went 5 2-3 innings and allowed four runs and nine hits, walking three with seven strikeouts. He hasn't won since June 22 against Kansas City, with three losses and six no-decisions.

Corey Hart had an RBI triple off reliever Chad Qualls in the eighth and Braun followed with an RBI single to make it 4-3.

Houston took a 1-0 lead in the second when Craig Biggio's hit bounced over the fence in right field for a ground-rule double, driving in Luke Scott from second.

With one out in the fifth, Mark Loretta hit a line drive toward center fielder Bill Hall, who drove for the ball and missed it. The ball bounced almost to the hill in deep center field and Loretta went in for a standup triple.

The Brewers chose to intentionally walk Lance Berkman, who was hitting .256, and face Lee -- who leads the Astros in RBIs. Lee slammed the first pitch for a double into the gap in left-center to score two runs for a 3-0 lead.

One out later, Scott's infield groundout scored Lee.

Kevin Mench led off the seventh inning with a double, went to third on Johnny Estrada's single and scored on Hardy's double-play grounder.


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