HOUSTON -- Zack Greinke didn't get it done in his second start in two days, but five Brewers relievers combined to blank Houston over the final seven innings Sunday and Milwaukee rallied to win the series with a 5-3 victory in 10 innings.
John Axford worked out of a 10th-inning jam to record his 15th save of the season, disappointing the home crowd of 16,966 at Minute Maid Park. Axford gave up consecutive singles to open the inning, but rallied to get the next three batters, including the final two by strikeout.
Rarely do you get a do-over in baseball, but Greinke, who threw four pitches Saturday before being ejected, was afforded such an opportunity. He started Sunday's game like he began Saturday's -- two batters faced, two hits, and one run allowed.
Greinke struggled to get out of the first inning, allowing three runs on four hits while walking two, including a bases-loaded free pass to Astros catcher Chris Snyder. Houston batted around in the first before Greinke retired his mound counterpart Jordan Lyles on a called third strike.
Greinke went just three innings, throwing 66 pitches (36 strikes) and did not figure in the decision. Greinke gave up three runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out five, including the final three batters he faced.
"It wasn't pretty to start, that's for sure," Greinke said. "I felt OK. I just wasn't really locating too good the first inning. And then I got a little better after that. But since I threw yesterday, I didn't have a whole lot of pitches to work with and kind of wasted them all in the first inning."
After starting the last two games for Milwaukee, Greinke is also scheduled to get the nod on Friday when Milwaukee hosts Pittsburgh in the Brewers' first game back from the All-Star break.
The last time a pitcher started three consecutive games was Cleveland's Sam McDowell (Oct. 3, 1965; April 11, 1966; and April 15, 1966). The last time it happened in one season was 1917 when Chicago White Sox pitcher Red Faber started both ends of a Sept. 3 doubleheader and came back to start the following day, as well.
Greinke said he relishes the prospect of making modern day history.
"It's going to be great," Greinke said. "I'm going to celebrate after the game. I'm considering it a record. Even though it's been done before, I feel like it's the first time ever being done.
"I think it's really neat, actually. I don't know if anyone else does, but I do. I was worried there for a while. It's cool to get three straight starts, but if you lose all three of them, that would be the worst thing ever. But we came back [today]. So it takes the pressure off a little bit."
Milwaukee broke a 3-3 tie in the 10th on consecutive RBI singles from Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks, who got the Brewers on the board initially with a second-inning solo homer. Nyjer Morgan and Ryan Braun, who opened the 10th with walks, scored.
"The one I'm really upset about is the pitch to Rickie," Astros reliever Fernando Rodriguez (1-8) said. "He's a great hitter and I thought I was going to be able to get him with that slow curveball, so I took something off it and he shot it through to the right side.
"Once you walk that leadoff guy, it makes things so much harder, especially with this lineup. You have four or five guys that come right behind him that are tough outs."
"I thought we hit the ball well today," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Sometimes, the game's not fair. Corey hits three bullets for outs and then squibs one up the middle [in the 10th inning] for a hit.
"I think it was a real nice game going into the break."
Marco Estrada, who was originally scheduled to start Sunday's game, followed Greinke to the mound and kept the Brewers close. Facing the minimum, Estrada pitched three hitless innings. He walked a batter, but a double play wiped out Houston's only baserunner against the righty.
"Marco did a great job," Roenicke said. "That was real nice to see. And all the relievers, everybody threw the ball well."
Mike Fiers, Francisco Rodriguez and Manny Parra followed in succession. Each threw a perfect inning of their own. Each reliever struck out a batter.
That allowed the Crew to chip away with single runs in the second, sixth and eighth innings to tie the game and send it into extra innings.
Norichika Aoki, batting on Sunday from the leadoff spot for the first time in the series, opened the game with a single. It extended his hitting streak to 15 games.
Following Sunday's game, infielder Taylor Green was optioned to Triple-A Nashville. A corresponding move will be announced at a later date.
Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.