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Lindstrom blows three-run lead in the ninth

August 6, 2010

MILWAUKEE — Wandy Rodriguez and the offense had the Brewers down, but Matt Lindstrom couldn’t deliver the knockout punch for the Astros.

With a three-run lead in the ninth, Lindstrom came on looking for his 23rd save of the season. Considering he hadn’t allowed a run in 10 2/3 innings over his last 10 outings, the outcome seemed pretty certain.

Enter Joe Inglett.

With one on and one out in the ninth, Inglett belted his first career pinch-hit homer, cutting the lead to 5-4. It wasn’t exactly a no-doubter, either, as the ball hit the right-field foul pole.

“It was hooking pretty quick,” Inglett said. “I was just willing it to stay fair, and it stayed fair. I thought it wrapped around the pole, but everybody is saying it hit.”

Three batters later, Prince Fielder ripped a two-run walk-off single down the line in right, sending the Brewers fans home happy with a 6-5 victory.

Before his two-run blast on Friday, Inglett had not hit a home run all season. In fact, his last blast came on Sept. 3, 2008, at Minnesota off Nick Blackburn.

For Inglett to come up with a home run in that situation, it was likely just about the last thing Astros manager Brad Mills expected.

“He’s done a pretty good job in the pinch for them so far this year, we knew that coming up,” Mills said of Inglett, who is batting .326 as a pinch-hitter this season with a Major League-leading 15 pinch-hits. “Expectations kind of go out the window a lot of times in this business anyway.”

After the home run, though, the Astros still led, 5-4. It was then that things really got bad for Lindstrom, who was unable to retire the final five Brewers he faced after retiring the first batter of the inning with a groundout.

Ahead, 0-2, on Rickie Weeks, a misplaced curveball from Lindstrom led to a single. He followed that by getting ahead of Corey Hart with a 1-2 count, before throwing three straight out of the zone.

Finally, a 1-0 sinker to Fielder was driven down the line, scoring Weeks and Hart from second and first.

“I kind of lost my location and just was trying to battle against myself a little bit trying to find the zone,” Lindstrom said. “I was getting ahead of hitters pretty good, but just threw too good of a pitch a couple times in the zone.

“The biggest thing was throwing bad pitches when I was ahead in the count and had pitches to waste.”

Prior to the thrilling finish, it was all about Rodriguez who turned in yet another gem on the mound.

Like the Astros as a whole, Rodriguez has been hot of late, turning around what began as a disappointing season.

Rodriguez went 6 1/3 innings, giving up two runs, one earned, on eight hits while recording seven strikeouts.

“He just didn’t make many mistakes,” Fielder said. “He’s in and out. His curveball is pretty good. His pitches are in the zone, but they’re not quite where you can put good wood on it. He pitched a good game, and I’m glad we were able to come back.”

Despite missing out on the win, Rodriguez has gone 6-1 with a 1.86 ERA over his last eight starts, dating back to June 24. Up to that point, Rodriguez had gone 3-10 with a 6.09 ERA through his first 14 starts of the season.

The difference, Rodriguez said, has been all about location.

“My command on every one of my pitches. I missed a lot of my locations [early in the season],” Rodriguez said. “I feel more comfortable when I use all my pitches. I have better location right now.

As for Friday’s outing?

“I had a great breaking ball today and I used it a lot,” Rodriguez said. “I used [my changeup] only with Hart, because when I have my breaking ball, a good one like today, I use it a lot.”

For the Astros, the loss is their second in a row and their first against the Brewers in more than a month.

Houston entered carrying a winning streak of five games against Milwaukee, dating back to a 5-1 win on June 30 at Miller Park.

“You win some, you lose some,” Lindstrom said. “You’ve got to forget this one and go on to the next one.

“I take responsibility for this. It’s unacceptable having a three-run lead out there facing the bottom of the order and letting them get back in the game like that.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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