Series: Game 2 of 3

Series tied 1-1 (as of 4/10)

Game 1: Friday, April 9
Game 2: Saturday, April 10
Game 3: Sunday, April 11

Astros 1

(2-3, 1-1 away)

Brewers 6

(4-2, 1-1 home)

    2:05 PM ET, April 10, 2004

    Miller Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 

    123456789 R H E
    HOU 000000010 1 6 0
    MIL 00003300 - 6 10 0

    W: B. Sheets (1-0)

    L: T. Redding (0-1)

    Sheets strikes out 10 in six innings

    MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Ben Sheets was humbled by his pitching last season and on opening day this year.

    He felt much better Saturday, after striking out a career-high 10 in six scoreless innings to lead the Milwaukee Brewers to a 6-1 victory over the Houston Astros.

    Sheets (1-0) has beaten the Astros seven straight times since losing his first two decisions against them in 2001.

    "I haven't been this excited for a long time, because I've struggled for as long as I ever have in my career," Sheets said. "Maybe it's partly because I've been embarrassed the way things are going. It was a great day today."

    Jeff Bagwell, who had five RBI in Friday's 13-7 victory over the Brewers to spoil their home opener, was impressed after striking out twice and then doubling against Sheets.

    "He was great today," Bagwell said. "It's the best I've ever seen him. He's pitched some good games against us. He had an overpowering fastball and curveball against us today."

    Milwaukee manager Ned Yost said Sheets provided the performance he always expected would come.

    "He had command of all his pitches today and that was evident," Yost said. "He threw a fantastic game. He really pitched great."

    Sheets, who was 11-13 last year and 0-3 in spring training, lasted only 3 1-3 innings Monday in St. Louis. But he was locked in a scoreless duel with Tim Redding (0-1) until the fifth, when the Brewers rallied with two outs.

    Geoff Jenkins was nicked by a pitch and Lyle Overbay singled before Wes Helms hit a three-run shot for his first home run of the season and a 3-0 lead.

    "I was very fortunate to get out of there with only three runs," Redding said. "I didn't feel very good with the way I was throwing. You battle and you battle and you battle for four innings-plus and all of a sudden it's going to catch up to you. You make one bad pitch."

    Sheets needed only five innings to equal his previous career high of nine strikeouts. He faced only 22 batters, four over the minimum. He allowed four hits, two by Brad Ausmus, and walked none before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the sixth, when the Brewers made it 6-0 against Houston reliever Ricky Stone.

    Stone gave up run-scoring singles to Craig Counsell, Keith Ginter and Overbay. The rally also included two intentional walks.

    The Astros averted a shutout in the eighth when Ausmus tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Morgan Ensberg against reliever Jeff Bennett.

    Redding, making his first start of season, kept the Brewers scoreless by getting out of trouble in the second through fourth innings, when the Brewers stranded seven runners.

    Before being shut down by the Brewers, the Astros scored 32 runs in their first four games.

    The 10 strikeouts by Sheets marked the first time the Brewers had someone in double digits since Aug. 31, 2001, when Jamey Wright struck out 12 against Houston.

    "I don't remember the last time I was focused like that," Sheets said. "Maybe the Astros and Cubs bring out the best in me."

    Sheets is 6-2 against the Cubs in his career.

    Game notes

    Houston placed LHP Andy Pettitte on the 15-day DL with a strained left elbow. He was hurt checking his swing while batting in his debut with the Astros on Tuesday against San Francisco. ... RHP Brandon Backe, a reliever, was called up from Triple-A New Orleans to replace Pettitte on the roster. Backe was acquired from Tampa Bay in December for INF Geoff Blum. ... Houston RHP Roy Oswalt, who starts Sunday, was 2-0 with a 5.63 ERA in five starts against the Brewers in 2003. ... CF Craig Biggio, batting .667 (7-for-17), got the day off. ... The Brewers have 12 home runs in their first six games.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press