MILWAUKEE (AP) – Rickie Weeks hit a two-run homer and Rick Helling pitched seven strong innings to lead the Milwaukee Brewers over the Houston Astros 4-2 on Sunday.

Houston remained a half-game ahead of Florida in the wild-card race. The Astros, who failed to move a season-high 12 games over .500, begin a four-game series with the Marlins on Monday in Houston.

Helling (2-0) was making his fourth start of the season and picked up his first win as a starter. He gave up five hits and had a season-high six strikeouts.

Derrick Turnbow pitched the ninth for his 31st save in 34 chances.

Roy Oswalt (17-12) lost for just the sixth time in his last 20 starts. He lasted six innings and gave up eight hits and four runs. He struck out five and walked one.

Bill Hall singled off Oswalt with two outs in the fourth before Weeks connected for his 13th homer of the season and first since Aug. 31, giving Milwaukee a 3-0 lead.

Helling escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third and stranded runners on first and second in the seventh by striking out Brad Ausmus and pinch-hitter Luke Scott, then getting Willy Taveras to ground out.

Milwaukee reliever Dana Eveland replaced Helling in the eighth and gave up a home run to Chris Burke on the first pitch he threw. Jose Vizcaino tripled on Eveland’s next pitch and scored on a groundout by Jason Lane.

Milwaukee took a 1-0 lead in the first when Carlos Lee singled home J.J. Hardy with one out.

Hall singled and scored the Brewers’ final run in the sixth.

Notes: Astros 3B Morgan Ensberg did not play for the fifth consecutive day after suffering a bruised right hand on Monday. … With Milwaukee’s run in the first, Houston has allowed 72 runs in the first inning and 72 in the second. The only other inning the Astros have allowed more runs is 86 in the eighth. … Oswalt had won 10 of his last 11 decisions in September. Helling’s last victory against Houston was June 9, 2001, with Texas.

AP-ES-09-11-05 1702EDT

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