HOUSTON (AP) - Brett Myers is trying hard to keep the ball down. That would help, because too many of his pitches lately have landed up, up and away.
Myers allowed two more home runs Sunday, and it was plenty to give the Atlanta Braves a 4-1 win over the Houston Astros.
Myers has already yielded 18 homers, most in the majors. Last year, he gave up 20 in more than 233 innings.
``It's the same thing every time I start,' said Myers. ``Two pitches end up losing me the game. It's frustrating.'
Brian McCann and Dan Uggla tagged Myers (2-6) for two-run shots as the Braves won their sixth in a row.
Houston manager Brad Mills said he's not sure why Myers continues to give up home runs, but hinted that location is a big factor.
``Going in to his last start, he started getting the ball down more in the zone. I think he did that again today,' Mills said. ``(He) is starting to get the ball down and he is getting more command. The Braves were just really patient on some pitches that he made.'
Tommy Hanson (8-4) struck out 14 and gave up one run and three hits while improving to 3-0 in five career starts against the Astros. The 24-year-old righty struck out five in a row early in the game and fanned the last three batters he faced.
Hanson's strikeouts were the most by a Braves pitcher since John Smoltz had 15 in 2005 against the Mets. Hanson is tied with Houston's Bud Norris for the most strikeouts in a game at Minute Maid Park.
``He was on throwing his offspeeds for strikes,' said Michael Bourn, who went 0 for 4, ending career high-tying 12-game hitting streak. ``He had his curveball working and his slider. And he was great with that changeup, whenever he used it. His fastball kept us honest. He wasn't throwing real hard, but that offspeed coming in there for a strike ... when the pitcher is doing that, he is pretty good.'
Bourn, who hit .373 during his streak, was the third victim when Hanson struck out the side in the third inning.
``He had pretty good stuff, there is no doubt about that, and it stood out a little bit today,' Mills said. ``He was able throw everything over the plate for strikes. He has a pretty good fast ball, and then his soft stuff, slider and curve, really kept us off.'
The Astros lost for the eighth time in nine games and struck out 17 times overall. Reliever Eric O'Flaherty fanned one in the eighth and Jonny Venters struck out two in the ninth. Venters earned his third save and extended his scoreless streak to 22 innings, the best current string by a reliever in the majors.
The slumping Uggla hit his eighth homer, a shot to left field that put Atlanta up 2-0 in the first inning. McCann, who hit a go-ahead homer in the 10th inning Saturday, connected for his fourth homer this season against Houston for a 4-0 lead in the sixth.
``I thought I made a pretty good pitch, 3-0, to McCann,' Myers said. ``But things are just not going the way that I want them to go. It's going the other way, in everybody else's favor.'
Hanson walked Carlos Lee with no outs in the second inning before retiring Brett Wallace. He then struck out five Astros in a row.
Clint Barmes reached on an error with no outs in the fourth when the throw by third baseman Brandon Hicks was too high. Hanson got Matt Downs for his seventh strikeout of the game before Lee got Houston's first hit on a single to shallow center field.
Lee's run-scoring double made it 4-1 in the sixth inning.
Astros fill-in right fielder Jason Michaels made three nifty diving catches. Regular right fielder Hunter Pence got the day off because of tightness in his lower back and substitute Jason Bourgeois was a late scratch with a sprained right ankle.
``He played good defense out there,' said Bourn, who usually makes the highlight-reel plays in the outfield. ``It was a great performance, especially on a day where we needed to give Hunter a day off.'
NOTES: Mills hopes to have Pence back for Monday night's game. ... The Astros activated LHP Wandy Rodriguez from the disabled list and optioned reliever Jeff Fulchino to Triple-A Oklahoma after the game. Rodriguez will start on Monday. Houston also moved starter Aneury Rodriguez to the bullpen to keep rookie Jordan Lyles in the rotation with the return of Wandy Rodriguez.
The Associated Press News Service
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