The Houston Astros spent less than one day in second place in the National League Central. They’re hoping to avoid a return.
The Astros look to hang on to their slim division lead as they conclude a three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark.
On Friday night, the Astros fell a half-game behind the Chicago Cubs, dropping out of first place for the first time since July 7.
On Saturday afternoon, however, the Astros beat the Reds 5-2, snapping a four-game losing streak and regaining their half-game over Chicago.
“One thing about this sport is there’s always tomorrow—unless it’s the last game of the season,” Houston slugger Jeff Bagwell said. “We were out of it for 12 hours.
“It’ll make it a lot better if we can find a way to win tomorrow.”
“There’s nothing fun about leapfrogging,” Miller said. “I’d rather be 10 games up right now. We’re in a position right now where we’re leapfrogging, and it makes things interesting.”
Manager Jimy Williams said that the Astros’ day in second place proved the importance of each game.
“It takes one game to turn things around,” he said. “We’ve got close to 40 games left, about 25 percent of the schedule is left. All the games are important.
“I’d certainly rather say that all the games are important rather than say all the games aren’t important. We have a chance to do something.”
Dernell Stinson went 3-for-4 with two doubles in his major league debut for the Reds, who have lost four of six.
STANDINGS: Astros - 1st place, NL Central. Reds - 5th place, 10 1/2 GB, NL Central.
ASTROS PROBABLE STARTER: Tim Redding (8-10, 3.76 ERA). Redding gave up three earned runs and seven hits in six innings of Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs—just his second defeat in six decisions. He is 1-1 with a 6.89 ERA—his second-worst mark against any team—in four career appearances, including three starts, against the Reds.
REDS PROBABLE STARTER: Paul Wilson (6-10, 4.92 ERA). On Tuesday, Wilson gave up just one earned run and three hits in seven innings of a 2-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks—his sixth defeat in seven decisions. In four career starts against the Astros, he is 0-3 with an 11.47 ERA—his worst mark against any major league team.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Astros - Richard Hidalgo, .305 avg.; Bagwell, 27 HRs and 80 runs; Berkman, 75 RBIs; Bagwell and Adam Everett, 6 SBs. Reds - Sean Casey, .292 avg. and 62 RBIs; Adam Dunn, 27 HRs and 70 runs; Dunn and Felipe Lopez and 8 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Astros, 12-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Astros - LHP Billy Wagner earned his 35th save in 38 opportunities Saturday. … LF Berkman’s homer was his 19th against the Reds in 189 at-bats. … Houston has not lost five in a row since May 19-25, 2002. Reds - INF-OF Stenson started in place of OF Dunn, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained left thumb. RHP Seth Etherton was recalled from Triple-A Louisville to replace Dunn on the 25-man roster. … The Reds announced that LHP Brandon Claussen, who underwent “Tommy John” elbow surgery on June 25, 2002, will not play for the rest of the season as a precaution. Claussen, who was acquired from the New York Yankees for 3B Aaron Boone on July 31, had pitched 100 innings in 17 starts in Triple-A this season. … RHP Wilson is 3-5 with a 3.48 ERA in 13 home starts this season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Astros - 29-35 on the road; Reds - 29-34 at home.
INJURIES: Astros - INF Jose Vizcaino (wrist), 15-day DL; LHP Carlos Hernandez (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Roy Oswalt (groin), 15-day DL; RHP Brian Moehler (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Rodrigo Rosario (shoulder), 60-day DL. Reds - OF Russell Branyan (ankle), 15-day DL; OF Austin Kearns (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Jose Acevedo (ankle), 15-day DL; RHP Ryan Dempster (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Jimmy Haynes (back), 15-day DL; RHP Luke Prokopec (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Ken Griffey Jr. (ankle), 60-day DL; OF Dunn (thumb), 15-day DL.