ARLINGTON -- The Brewers did a bit of weekend cleaning during their Texas road trip, bringing out the brooms to sweep a three-game set against the American League West-leading Rangers.
Houser, a second-round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, tossed five innings of one-run ball and struck out seven batters to earn his fifth victory of the season.
“His outing is what set us up [to win],” said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. “They have a lot of lefties in their lineup … just some excellent hitters, and [Houser] did a good job navigating through it. Especially his third time [through the order] in the fifth inning, I thought that was impressive.
“You really can’t ask for much more. This was a lineup that scored a ton of runs and has done a lot of home run damage, and we minimized that today.”
Following Sunday’s win, the Brewers have now won three consecutive games and hold a three-game lead over the Cubs in the National League Central. It is Milwaukee’s second winning streak of at least three games this month; the club has now won seven of its last 10 games.
“We’re playing good baseball,” Counsell said. “In a long baseball season, you have ups and downs, but this was a good series. [Now] we get to enjoy a day off, and then we’re off to another tough challenge.”
On the other side of the diamond, it wasn’t the hitting spree the first two games of the series were -- when the Brewers collected 14 and 15 hits, respectively -- but the bats did enough to back Houser and secure the sweep.
Facing Max Scherzer -- who moved up to 11th on MLB’s all-time strikeout list in the contest -- for the third time this season, the Brewers’ plate discipline stood out.
The team drew four walks and scored three runs against the three-time Cy Young Award winner, forcing Scherzer out of the game in the fourth inning after his pitch count swelled to 99 pitches.
Three of the four walks charged against Scherzer came in the top of the third inning, when the Brewers sent eight men to the plate.
After Brice Turang struck out to lead off the frame, Tyrone Taylor worked a seven-pitch walk, Christian Yelich singled to right field and Mark Canha chipped in with a seven-pitch walk of his own.
Then, a couple of at-bats later, an errant pitch from Scherzer clipped Willy Adames on the top of his helmet, forcing in a run with the bases loaded. Fortunately for Adames, he was not injured on the play and even tried waving off the medical staff before they checked on him.
One at-bat later, Rowdy Tellez, who returned to the lineup on Saturday after spending six weeks on the injured list with a finger injury, also drew a free pass to drive in the team’s second run of the day.
Yelich, who went 2-for-5, drove in a run on an RBI double down the right-field line in the top of the fourth to chase Scherzer from the game.
In the top of the eighth inning, the Brewers broke the game wide open, tacking on three insurance runs against lefty reliever Will Smith to push their lead to 6-1.
Taylor, who had a pair of extra-base hits and scored three runs, did most of the damage in the inning. With two men on, the 29-year-old outfielder bounced his first triple of the season just inside the right-field line to drive in both runs.
“We have a really good team,” Taylor said, “and I’m just thankful to be a part of it.”