LOS ANGELES -- All Brett Myers wanted was to get back to his
old form and give Houston's bullpen some well-deserved rest.
He did both against the reeling Los Angeles Dodgers.
Myers pitched a four-hitter and retired 17 consecutive batters
in the first complete game by Houston's staff this season, leading
the Astros to a 7-3 victory on Friday night.
"I know our bullpen has been throwing a lot this past week,"
Myers said. "Tonight I was able to keep my pitch count down and
get a chance to go out and pitch in the ninth. We scored some runs
and that made it a lot easier to pitch. I went right after those
guys and didn't worry about giving up hits. I just let them swing.
It's a lot better to pitch ahead in the count than behind."
Facing the Dodgers for the first time since the 2008 NL
championship series with Philadelphia, Myers (3-6) threw 98 pitches
and went the distance for the 11th time in 231 career starts --
after going 1-6 with a 6.16 ERA in his previous 10 outings.
"They were really aggressive tonight, and I was able to hit my
spots and not make too many mistakes," Myers said. "I made good
pitchers in hitters' counts and they made quick outs. That's the
key to pitching."
It was the first complete game victory by an Astros pitcher
since Aug. 30, 2010, when J.A. Happ beat St. Louis 3-0 with a
two-hitter at Houston. And it came in just their fourth game since
pitching coach Brad Arnsberg was fired and replaced with Doug
Brocail, who began the season as a special assistant to general
manager Ed Wade.
"I think he was a man on a mission today," Brocail said. "It
had nothing to do with Doug Brocail. When he left the bullpen, I
was like, 'Man, our bullpen might not have to get up tonight.' And
he proved it. He got a lot of first-pitch swings. It was awesome to
see him work as fast as he did and as confident as he was.
"I saw a lot of the Brett Myers we saw last year -- working down
in the zone, throwing his sinker, pitching off of his fastball,
going right at guys and making the hitter aggressive. That can only
lead to success."
Myers' streak of consecutive outs was sandwiched by a pair of
James Loney singles, one in the first and the other in the seventh.
Aaron Miles singled for the other Los Angeles hit. The Dodgers lost
their fourth straight and are nine games under .500 for the first
time since 2005, when the team finished with a 71-91 record.
"We need to turn it around, that's for sure," manager Don
Mattingly said. We are definitely not going to concede anything.
These things can snowball. I've been on a couple of clubs where we
just didn't seem to put anything together. But it's going to be up
to us not allow that to happen."
Ted Lilly (5-6) was charged with six runs -- five earned -- and
eight hits over 5 1/3 innings in his 300th major league start. The
35-year-old left-hander, pitching on five days rest after an 11-7
victory at Colorado last Saturday, has yet to win consecutive
starts this season.
"I was throwing the ball as well as I have all year, I
thought," Lilly said. "But I made a couple of mistakes with some
fastballs, especially to (Keppinger) to lead off the inning, and it
kind of snowballed from there."
The Astros snapped a 1-1 tie with five runs in the sixth. Carlos
Lee had a go-ahead RBI single and Clint Barmes drove in two more
with an opposite-field double that landed just inside the right
field line with the bases loaded.
Rookie Josh Lindblom relieved Lilly with the bases full after an
intentional walk to Carlos Corporan, and two more runs scored when
second baseman Miles smothered Jason Bourgeois' single toward the
middle and tried for the force at second, but threw wildly past
shortstop Dee Gordon as Barmes scored behind Wallace.
Myers walked his first batter on four pitches, and Gordon
scored on Kemp's sacrifice fly. The Astros tied it in the fourth on
Chris Johnson's RBI double. Johnson also singled during Houston's
big sixth inning. Johnson came in with only one hit in 18 at-bats
against Dodgers pitching -- a go-ahead, three-run homer against
Lilly in a 3-2 Astros win over Los Angeles on Sept. 9, 2010, at
Myers' last complete game was on July 27, 2010 - against
Lilly in Lilly's final start with the Chicago Cubs. ... Both teams
were swept in their previous series, the Dodgers by Cincinnati and
the Astros by Pittsburgh. ... Mattingly planned to huddle with
struggling RHP Chad Billingsley and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt
to discuss the reasons for Billingsley's 11.19 ERA over his
previous three starts. "There's too many balls in the middle of
the plate," Mattingly said. "The other day, he was just firing -
and that's what I was upset about. Bills is one of those guys who
throws harder and harder when he's struggling instead of throwing
quality pitches. But there's days when you don't have that good
stuff, so you've got to make an adjustment and pitch a little
differently. I mean, the definition of insanity is doing the same
thing over and over and expecting a different result." ... Lee and
Bourgeois both stole second against Dodgers backup C Dioner
Navarro, improving the Astros' major league-best stolen base
percentage to 85.9 (61 for 71). Opponents are 5 for 16 against
Navarro, who threw out Lee in the seventh.