MILWAUKEE - J.J. Hardy isn't quite sure what's caused his sudden surge in power. The Brewers shortstop only knows that he's enjoying it.
Hardy hit two homers and drove in three runs as Milwaukee ended the Houston Astros' five-game winning streak with a 6-4 victory Saturday night.
"I don't know what's going on," said Hardy, who has five homers this season. "I'm happy. I had a couple pitches I could turn on. I've been feeling good in the batter's box."
Hardy, who had 14 homers in his first two big league seasons, had three two-home run games in the minors. Manager Ned Yost believes Hardy could develop into a home run-hitting shortstop.
"I think he can hit 20, 25 a year, maybe more," Yost said.
Chris Capuano (3-0) benefited from Hardy's new-found power as he pitched a season-high six innings for the win, allowing four runs and four hits while striking out six and walking six.
"There were times he was really good, there were times where he was picking," Yost said. "He always finds a way to get through it."
Francisco Cordero pitched the ninth for his sixth save in as many chances, working out of a jam by getting former Brewer Carlos Lee to ground out with runners on first and second to end it.
"I probably was trying to do a little too much in that situation and went away from my swing," Lee said.
With the win, Milwaukee jumped over Houston into first place in the National League's Central Division.
Morgan Ensberg homered for Houston, which dropped to 6-2 on the road - one game shy of tying its best start to a season away from home.
Hardy, who already tied last year's home run total, played just 35 games because of an ankle injury suffered May 16, 2006. He has four home runs and eight RBIs in the last three games, marking the first time since May 19-21, 2003, that a Milwaukee player has hit four home runs in three games. The last was Geoff Jenkins.
Yost said the recent power surge is not as eye-opening as it appears.
"It's not like he's hit 150 homers in a week," Yost said.
Houston opened the scoring when Ensberg led off the second inning, hitting the first pitch he saw from Capuano over the left-center field fence for his second homer of the season.
Milwaukee then took a 2-1 lead in the third inning when Hardy hit a 1-1 pitch off Wandy Rodriguez (0-2) over the left-field wall for his first home run of the game, scoring Rickie Weeks, who reached on a ground-rule double.
The Brewers added to their lead in the fourth inning when Corey Hart reached on a bunt and stole second and third base. Catcher Damian Miller then walked and stole second - his fifth career stolen base and first since the 2003 season.
Tony Graffanino then hit a sacrifice fly that scored Hart and gave Milwaukee a 3-1 lead.
Yost said that run shouldn't be overlooked.
"That was a big run," Yost said. "A very well-manufactured run."
In the fifth, Milwaukee scored three more runs, with the big blow coming from Hardy, who opened the inning by hitting another 1-1 pitch from Rodriguez over the left-field wall to give Milwaukee a 4-1 lead.
Kevin Mench and Miller then added run-scoring singles to give Milwaukee a 6-1 lead.
Houston closed the gap to 6-2 after Chris Burke singled off reliever Carlos Villanueva's right foot with the bases loaded in the seventh to score Adam Everett. Lee added a two-run single to make it 6-4.
The Astros then threatened with the heart of their order up in the ninth, but couldn't come through.
"We had the right guys up there," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "We had a shot at it. The difference is their pitchers did a good job tonight."
Rodriguez pitched six innings, allowing six runs, nine hits, while striking out seven and walking three.
"He got himself in trouble," Garner said. "He got behind some hitters, he walked too many hitters. He gave them too many opportunities."
Notes: The 2004 Astros started 7-1 on the road in 2004. ... The Brewers have had at least one double in every game this season. ... Saturday marked the first game the roof was open at Miller Park this season. Game-time temperature was 71 degrees. ... Brewers starters have pitched at least five innings in every game this season. ... A night after hitting his first grand slam since 1994, Craig Biggio struck out with the bases loaded in the seventh inning. ... The attendance was 41,209, the fifth sellout of the season at Miller Park.