MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Bill Hall doesn't mind his role as a utility
player and it's showing at the plate.
Hall had three hits for the third straight game, including a
home run, and Damian Miller hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the
eighth inning to lead the Milwaukee Brewers to a 4-2 victory over
the Houston Astros on Monday night.
"I am embracing being in the lineup, no matter how I get in
there," said Hall, who made his ninth start at third base Monday.
He has also started five games at shortstop and two at second base
after heading in to the offseason expecting to be the everyday
third baseman for Milwaukee. Then the Brewers acquired Corey
Koskie, forcing Hall to play any number of positions, including
center field, to stay in the lineup.
The plan is working. He is now hitting .348 in 20 games.
"I feel pretty good up there," Hall said. "It's fun right
now. Everybody on the team is swinging the bat well. We always knew
we could get on a roll like this, and, hopefully, here we go."
The victory, Milwaukee's sixth in its last seven games, was
tempered by the loss of starter Tomo Ohka, who left the game after
the fifth inning with a right shoulder cuff strain. Ohka retired 13
straight batters at one point, and gave up two hits and one run
before leaving. He will be re-evaluated Tuesday.
Ohka said his shoulder started to bother him in the fourth
inning. Brewers manager Ned Yost said he approached Ohka after the
fifth, and he said his shoulder was getting tight. Yost immediately
decided to go to the bullpen.
"He wanted to go back out," Yost said. "We didn't want to
take any chances with him."
Ohka said he thinks he will be OK.
"It is stiff," he said of the shoulder, which was wrapped in
ice after the game. "I will see tomorrow how I feel."
Milwaukee scored twice in the eighth to break a 2-2 tie.
Matt Wise (2-1) pitched the eighth for the win, and Derrick
Turnbow struck out the side in the ninth for his ninth save in nine
Dan Wheeler (0-1) took the loss in relief of Astros starter
Wandy Rodriguez. Rodriguez gave up two runs, both on solo homers,
and seven hits in six innings in his bid to win his fifth straight
decision. He struck out four and walked one.
A key defensive play in the eighth may have saved the game for
Milwaukee, as Craig Biggio lined a ball into the right-field corner
with one out. Geoff Jenkins fielded it cleanly and threw to Rickie
Weeks, who made a perfect throw to Hall at third base to get the
"Biggio made his mind up. He knew what he wanted to do,"
Astros manager Phil Garner said of Biggio. "Most guys get thrown
out if people make good throws, and they made two."
Hall called it "by far the play of the game."
"The game changes right there if he gets to third and they
score a run," he said. "They can bring in (Brad) Lidge, and we
don't want to face him. We want to keep him on a two-day vacation
Yost said Weeks, maligned for his defense in his young career,
had "as good a game as you can play at second base."
In addition, center fielder Brady Clark made a full-extension
diving catch to snag Morgan Ensberg's sinking liner in the fourth
inning. Fielder also made a diving play in the sixth to rob Willy
Taveras of an extra-base hit.
Hall also had a homer in the sixth. Hall has nine hits in his
last 14 at-bats. Fifteen of his 23 hits this season have gone for
extra bases, including six home runs.
"We're just doing what everybody expected us to do, and what we
feel like we can do," Hall said. "And when it all comes together,
we're a dangerous team. We're definitely a team to be reckoned with
in the National League Central."
Ohka was impressive early. He retired 13 straight batters after
giving up consecutive singles to Craig Biggio and Taveras to start
Carlos Lee, coming off an April in which he hit a team-record 10
home runs, also homered for Milwaukee. Backup Astros catcher Eric
Munson homered in the seventh for Houston's first hit since the
Brewers LHP Chris Capuano was selected the NL player of the
week after throwing a shutout in a 9-0 victory over the Chicago
Cubs on Sunday and working seven strong innings in a 3-2 victory
over the Atlanta Braves. ... Jenkins has an eight-game hitting
streak. He is 13 for his last 31 (.419).