Cincinnati (74-77) at Houston (72-78)

Breezy Currently: Houston, TX, US
Temp: 83° F
  • Game info: 2:05 pm EDT Wed Sep 20, 2006
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Rare success against the Houston Astros is helping the Cincinnati Reds keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

The Reds look to win each of their series against the Astros in a season for the first time in 11 years when the NL Central rivals wrap up a three-game series at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday.

The Reds (74-77) improved to 10-4 against the Astros (72-78) this season with a 5-4 win Tuesday, marking the first time since 1995 they have won 10 games against Houston. That was also the last year Cincinnati took every series it played against Houston and the last time the Reds reached the playoffs.

The Reds are five games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL wild-card race. The Astros, meanwhile, trail the Dodgers by 6 1/2 games.

Wednesday’s matchup pits two top starters.

Bronson Arroyo (14-9, 3.17 ERA) has won his last four starts for the Reds, posting a 1.12 ERA in that span. One more win would give him a career high.

“He’s pitched well for us, especially over the last month,” manager Jerry Narron said. “He’s really come on strong.”

The right-hander gave up four hits while striking out seven in eight innings of a 4-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Friday. He is 1-1 with a 4.34 ERA in three starts against the Astros this season, and 3-1 with a 4.76 ERA in six starts and six relief appearances against them in his career.

The Astros, losers of seven of nine, will counter with Roger Clemens (6-5, 2.52 ERA). He struggled in his last start, giving up four runs, three hits and five walks in five innings in a 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday.

The 44-year-old right-hander lost to the Reds on July 25, when he allowed up two runs and seven hits in seven innings in a 2-0 Astros loss. He is 4-2 with a 2.49 ERA in seven career starts against Cincinnati.

The Reds got a scare Tuesday when second baseman Brandon Phillips was struck in the left eye when trying to field a bad hop on a throw from the outfield. Phillips fell to the ground on his hands and knees after he was hit standing in the infield near second base, staying there for a couple of minutes. He then sat down on the field while trainers attended to him. He was taken to a hospital as a precaution. His status for Wednesday’s game is uncertain.

Aubrey Huff continues to struggle for the Astros. He went 0-for-3 Tuesday, and is batting .240 with 10 home runs and 32 RBIs in 55 games after spending the first half of the season with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Huff believes he will improve as he gets to know the NL pitchers.

“Yes, absolutely,” Huff said. “For the most part, I’m always facing a new guy that I’ve never seen before. It’s part of the adjustment period.”

Huff is batting .571 (12-for-21) with a home run and five doubles against Arroyo, who played the previous three seasons in the AL with the Boston Red sox.

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Starting Pitchers

B. Arroyo WAS vs. R. Clemens NYY
14-11 Record 7-6
3.29 ERA 2.30
184 K 102
64 BB 29
1.19 WHIP 1.04


Wednesday, Sep 20