<
>

Sheets beats Astros with arm, bat

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Even after two bloop RBI singles, Ben Sheets isn't a big fan of the batter's box.

"I still don't like to hit,'' said Sheets, a career .111 hitter. "I don't mind standing on first base. But that's probably my least favorite part of the game. I enjoy what I do on the mound first and foremost and even tonight, with two hits, I still like what happened on the mound.''

Sheets pitched a seven-hitter for his second career complete
game in the Milwaukee Brewers' 7-1 victory over the Houston Astros
on Tuesday night.

Sheets (4-7), whose start was pushed back one day after a four-inning, 99-pitch performance at Oakland last week, walked three and struck out seven in his first complete game since May 29, 2001, at St. Louis.

The extra day's rest "allowed him to finish today's game,'' Brewers manager Jerry Royster said. "I guarantee you he wouldn't have been able to do it on four days' rest.''

Royster laughed about Sheets' two RBI singles, which gives him eight hits in 72 at-bats in the major leagues. But he was thoroughly impressed by Sheets' sacrifice bunt in the third inning.

"If he can sacrifice like he did, that's what we're looking for
out of him,'' Royster said. "He can pull his Mickey Mantle
imitation some other time. I'm not going to be counting on that
very much, believe me.''

Sheets' two RBI were a career high and his two hits equaled a
career high.

But he was more concerned about his work on the mound. And for good reason. He hadn't won since May 9 at Wrigley Field. He had four losses and two no-decisions in his previous six starts.

The Brewers took some time to figure out right-hander Kirk
Saarloos, who lost his major league debut. Saarloos didn't allow a
hit until the fourth, when Tyler Houston led off with his fifth homer for a 1-0 lead.

But in the fifth, Saarloos gave up five runs and four hits,
including an RBI single to Sheets.

Sheets' bloop single to left-center scored Alex Ochoa from third
base and made it 2-0. Houston added a sacrifice fly and Richie
Sexson an RBI single before Nelson Cruz came in and gave up a
two-run triple to Ryan Thompson, called up from the minor leagues
before the game.

"I hung a slider to Sheets and he blooped it in there, which
was tough,'' Saarloos said. "That stuff happens. You have to know
how to rebound from that stuff and get innings stopped. I didn't
get that inning stopped. That's why I came out of the game.''

After Lance Berkman doubled and scored on an error by shortstop
Jose Hernandez in the top of the sixth, Sheets had another bloop RBI single in the bottom of the inning, this one off Cruz, to make it 7-1.

"He put the ball in play,'' Astros manager Jimy Williams said.
"Pitchers, if they understand that, how they can help themselves
whether it's fielding the position or bunting the ball. He got a
bunt and a couple of base hits, couple of RBIs. Tonight was hit
night.''

The Brewers were without two starting outfielders who were injured Monday night: leadoff hitter Alex Sanchez (wrist, knee) and No. 5 hitter Geoff Jenkins, who tore ligaments in his right ankle and dislocated the ankle and could be out for the season.

The Brewers placed Jenkins on the 15-day DL and purchased the contract of Thompson from Triple-A Indianapolis. Thompson started in left when Matt Stairs (hamstring) was a late scratch.

"This guy is a legitimate major league player,'' said Royster, who called Thompson the final cut during spring training. "This guy spent the first 2½ months in Triple-A playing extremely well. When we finally had an opportunity to call him up, we did. He was appreciative of it.

"That's the only thing he even said to me today: 'Hey, thanks for thinking about me.' And he just went out there and played just like he did all spring training.''

Game notes
Thompson's triple was his first hit in the major leagues since July 24, 2001, for Florida against the Mets. ... Alex Zinter made his major league debut after 14 minor league seasons. The
Astros' 34-year-old catcher pinch hit in the seventh and grounded
out to first. "Going up there, I could I could hear my heartbeat in my ears,'' Zinter said. ... Brewers first-round draft pick Prince Fielder, the 18-year-old son of former major league slugger Cecil Fielder, hit two home runs in batting practice. He stopped by Milwaukee on his way to Odgen (Utah) of the Pioneer Rookie League.