Brewers prevail on Braun's hit in 11th

Brewers prevail in 11 innings

HOUSTON -- It took 17 hits, six pitchers and four hours and 23 minutes for the Milwaukee Brewers to finally put away Houston, 9-8, in 11 innings Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.

Reliever Mark DiFelice came in to pitch out of a bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the 10th and retire the Astros in the 11th to collect the win.

"It was an unbelievable, gut-wrenching game," DiFelice said of Milwaukee's fourth win in a row, all on the road. "I wasn't even thinking about [getting in the game]. When Todd Coffey comes in with a two-run lead in the eighth inning, I'm thinking, 'Game over.'"

But it wasn't. The Astros struck for four hits and three runs in the bottom of the eighth off Coffey to take a 7-6 lead.

"It happens," said Coffey, who had two saves this season in the absence of injured Trevor Hoffman. "I went right after them, and they beat me. The end result is we got a win. But it's unacceptable to give up three runs with two outs. I made one bad pitch."

Kazuo Matsui hit that bad pitch for a two-run double to give the Astros the lead.

No worries, Todd. The fun was only beginning.

The Brewers went right back on top in the ninth inning with a Corey Hart double and Prince Fielder home run, his second of the game and third of the season, off Houston closer Jose Valverde to take an 8-7 lead.

Fielder's homer on an 0-2 pitch barely cleared the fence in the right-field corner.

"Everybody was yelling, 'Get up, get up,' " Milwaukee manager Ken Macha said. "I've got bifocals on. I couldn't see it."

That lead didn't last either. Reliever Carlos Villanueva hit Lance Berkman to begin the bottom of the ninth. Pinch-hitter Jeff Keppinger sacrificed Berkman to second and, with two outs, Hunter Pence hit a hard grounder to Bill Hall at third that should have ended the game.

Hall threw the ball into the dirt, Fielder couldn't scoop it and Berkman raced home from second to tie the game and force extra innings.

"It was a play I should have made," Hall said. "I didn't have the best footing throwing the ball. I'm not one to make excuses. I've been playing great defense. I'm not going to let one play deter from what I've done all season."

Hall did make a major contribution at the plate. He hit a three-run homer off Houston starter Mike Hampton in the sixth and singled in the run that put the Brewers ahead, 5-4, in the eighth.

"I've been kind of hanging in there, not feeling great at the plate," Hall said. "I was waiting for a breakout game. Three-for-six with four RBIs and a home run, those are the kind of games that breaks you out. Maybe I can get hot from this."

The Astros loaded the bases with two outs in the last of the 10th off Villanueva on a Michael Bourn double and two walks. Bring in DiFelice.

"DiFelice is a strike thrower," Macha said. "I looked up once, and he had thrown eight pitches, all strikes. He gets good movement on the ball."

DiFelice faced a tough out in veteran Miguel Tejada, who began the night hitting .348.

"What a tough spot to come into," DiFelice said. "Just take a deep breath and try to refocus. I think throwing strikes is just being able to focus. I threw cutters away [to Tejada]. He swung at the first one, and he got [the second one] pretty good, but it was off the end of the bat."

Tejada flied out to center, and the Milwaukee offense went back to work.

Hart led off the top of the 11th with his second double and Ryan Braun drove him in for the winning run with his fourth single of the game.

"I'm slowing everything down, staying within myself," said Braun, who raised his average to .359 while going 16-for-31 on the road trip. "I'm dictating the pace of the game more than allowing the opposition to. My timing and rhythm weren't quite there [early in the season]. I knew eventually I'd go on some kind of streak like this."

It was a feel-good win for a team that began the year 3-8.

"We're right back to where we need to be (8-9)," Braun said. "We dealt with some adversity early in the year. To come back and win a game like this is definitely indicative that we're playing well. We're headed in the right direction."

But the Brewers didn't make it easy on themselves Saturday night.

After Braun had given them the lead once more, Pence led off the Houston 11th with a single.

"I thought, 'Here we go again,' " Braun said.

"It was an 0-2 [pitch] and [I give up] a base hit," DiFelice said. "That was not very smart. I should have tried to bury a slider. He's a very aggressive hitter." Pence never made it past first base. DiFelice struck out J.R. Towles and Darin Erstad to end it.

"I'm thrilled right now," he said. "To be on the mound and pitch the last out was something special."

Gene Duffey is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.