The Houston Astros are getting key contributions from their entire team right now.
They go for their seventh win in eight games and try for a two-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds when the teams finish their series Thursday at Great American Ball Park.
The Astros (7-6) trailed Cincinnati 2-1 through seven innings of Wednesday night’s game, but rallied for five runs in the top of the eighth and one more in the ninth to win 7-2.
Reserve players helped key Houston’s comeback. Pinch-hitter Orlando Palmeiro started the rally when he was hit by a pitch from Reds reliever Todd Coffey. Later in the inning, Mark Loretta—another pinch-hitter—gave the Astros their first lead with an RBI single.
Outfielder Jason Lane, starting for just the fifth time, capped the five-run outburst with a three-run homer.
“We’ve got a great bench,” Lane said. “Hopefully it’s going to help this team out a ton.”
The victory opened a four-game, nine-game road trip for the Astros, who improved to 4-1 on the road after going just 38-43 last season. Houston has scored 30 runs in its five road games while hitting seven home runs and batting .315 (17-for-54) with runners in scoring position.
Lance Berkman singled home the tying run with two outs in the eighth, raising his batting average to a paltry .190 on the season but increasing his career RBI total against the Reds (8-7) to 99—his most versus any opponent.
The Astros, who have won three straight games and six of seven, send veteran Woody Williams (0-2, 5.63 ERA) to the mound for his fourth attempt at a first win with his new team. The 40-year-old Houston native, who signed with his hometown team in November after spending the last two seasons with San Diego, is allowing opponents to bat .310 against him.
The right-hander got charged with the Astros’ last loss, an 8-5 defeat at Philadelphia on Saturday in which he yielded six runs and eight hits, including two homers, in 5 1-3 innings.
Williams is 8-5 with a 5.34 ERA in 19 career starts versus the Reds, but has struggled mightily against them lately. He has allowed at least five runs in each of his five outings against Cincinnati since the 2004 All-Star break, posting an 0-2 record and 8.38 ERA while surrendering 11 homers.
Reds outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. has hit Williams well throughout their careers, going 13-for-31 (.419) with five homers.
Cincinnati starter Bronson Arroyo (0-2, 3.48) enjoyed his second straight 14-win season and made the NL All-Star team last year, but is still trying to break into the win column in 2007. The right-hander lost at Chicago last Saturday, when he gave up six runs—two earned—eight hits and three walks in 6 2-3 innings.
“That’s the way it goes man,” Arroyo said. “I always say, it’s 162 games and a long roller coaster. I’m just starting out on the bottom of the tracks. It’ll turn around.”
Josh Hamilton was a bright spot for the Reds on Wednesday, when he homered for the fourth time in just 26 at-bats. The 25-year-old outfielder, who spent three years away from baseball while recovering from drug addiction, has played his way into Cincinnati’s starting lineup the last two games after beginning the season on the bench.