Cincinnati (63-72) at Houston (73-63)

  • Game info: 2:05 pm EDT Mon Sep 6, 2004
  • TV: FSOH
Preview | Box Score | Recap

A series with the Cincinnati Reds last week helped the Houston Astros gather some much-needed momentum in their push for the playoffs.

The Astros hope for more of the same as they try to extend their season-high nine-game winning streak in the opener of a three-game series with the Reds at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros swept the Reds in a three-game set early last week and exited the series with a six-game winning streak. Houston, which added on to that streak with a sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend, has won five straight against Cincinnati.

However, Houston won’t be taking the Reds lightly despite outscoring them 28-6 last week.

“They’re probably not too happy with the way it went in Cincinnati,” Houston’s Mike Lamb said. “They’re going to come in here and play hard and give us everything they’ve got. We’re not expecting them to roll over just because we swept them in Cincinnati. They’re playing for pride. They’ve got a job to do, too.”

The Astros beat the Pirates 10-5 on Sunday, moving within 1 1/2 games of the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants in the NL wild-card race.

“We cannot at any point look past any particular game or any particular team,” Astros catcher Brad Ausmus said. “Regardless of who they are or what their record is, we need to win baseball games.

“The only thing on our mind right now is (Monday’s starter) Aaron Harang and the Cincinnati Reds.”

Lamb went 4-for-5 with his career-high 10th homer and four RBIs on Sunday for the Astros, who also got three hits from Carlos Beltran.

The Astros have won 17 of 20 and are on their longest winning streak since Sept. 1999.

The Reds pounded the Milwaukee Brewers 9-2 on Sunday, ending their five-game losing streak. Adam Dunn belted a three-run homer, and Ryan Freel went 3-for-5 with a homer for Cincinnati, which has won just 16 of 51 games since the All-Star break.

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Starting Pitchers

A. Harang PHI vs. B. Backe HOU
10-9 Record 5-3
4.86 ERA 4.30
125 K 54
53 BB 27
1.43 WHIP 1.52