HOUSTON -- The trick now for the Astros will be to try to bottle some of this offense.
The Astros enjoyed an offensive explosion for the second time in four games Sunday afternoon, getting a grand slam from Jordan Schafer and a strong pitching performance from Wandy Rodriguez to blank the Dodgers, 12-0, at sun-drenched Minute Maid Park.
After erupting for 17 hits and 11 runs on Thursday in Washington, the Astros were held to a total of two runs while losing the first two games of the series against the Dodgers. Carlos Lee matched that output with a two-run homer in the first inning Sunday, and Schafer's grand slam put Houston ahead, 6-0, in the second.
"Wandy threw a great game today, and he only needed one [run]," Lee said. "He continues to pitch great and keep us in the games."
The 12 runs scored by the Astros are a season high, and the most runs by Houston since it scored 12 on May 30, 2011, against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. It's Houston's largest shutout victory since beating the Rockies, 12-0, on July 1, 2007.
"We need to kind of keep that going," Astros catcher Jason Castro said. "It just takes one or two things to keep us going, and I think if we can strike early, we've proven we can keep it going. It's big for us to try to score as early as possible, and hopefully we can keep that theme up."
Rodriguez (1-2) threw seven scoreless innings and held the Dodgers to three hits -- all singles --- and three walks. The left-hander struck out six batters and lowered his ERA to 1.42 in four starts. The Astros have 11 quality starts in 16 games this season.
"Wandy continues to throw ball well, and we need it, especially from where he is in the rotation," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "He's a guy that's going to give us a quality start and a chance to pitch deep into games. He's thrown well and the other guys have fallen in line."
Dodgers outfielder Jerry Hairston knew his team was in trouble facing a big early deficit with Rodriguez on the mound.
"Any time you give a veteran guy a pretty big lead, he knows what to do with it," Hairston said. "He's been a good pitcher for a long time. You stake him to a six-run lead, he's going to be aggressive and use all his pitches, and he did that."
Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley, who was 4-0 with a 1.78 ERA in four career starts at Minute Maid Park entering Sunday, was rocked for four hits and nine runs (five earned) with four walks in 3 1/3 innings. He had only walked one batter in 20 1/3 innings coming into the game.
Ten Astros tallied hits, with Castro and Chris Johnson both going 2-for-4 for the only multihit performances of the game for Houston.
"We were trying to be aggressive on strikes," Castro said. "We did a good job of hitting the pitches that were mistakes, and for us to do that and capitalize on those is huge. For us to capitalize on a few miscues on their defensive side is also big for us. We need to really drive home those situations."
The Astros made the Dodgers pay for a one-out error on first baseman Juan Rivera in the first when Lee unloaded a two-run, two-out homer through the back of the Crawford Boxes in left field.
"When another big league team gives us four outs in an inning, it's nice to be able to take advantage of it," Mills said.
In the second inning, Johnson singled to center and Castro and Rodriguez drew walks to load the bases with one out. Schafer lofted an 0-1 cutter into the air and watched it sail over the fence and off the glove of right fielder Andre Ethier, who made a leap at the wall, for his first career grand slam and a 6-0 lead.
"He was camped for a minute and all I was thinking about going around first was [Toronto's Jose] Bautista robbed me of a home run last year in Atlanta, and I thought when [Ethier] jumped and came down, he caught it," said Schafer, who's reached base in all 16 games this year. "Thankfully, he didn't."
Ethier didn't think the ball would travel that far when it first left the bat.
"I thought it would be right on the warning track," he said. "It just kept going. I tried to get back to the wall and get in position and just jump. It tipped right off my glove. I under-jumped. I can only jump straight up. I can't jump backwards."