The Astros hope to continue their success against Reds relievers as they continue a four-game series at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday.
Houston outfielder Luke Scott hit a three-run home run in the eighth inning to lead the Astros to a 5-4 win in Monday’s opener. With their fifth win in six games against Cincinnati, the Astros (14-17) overtook the Reds (14-18) for third place in the NL Central.
The Astros have won four of six games since losing nine of 10.
Houston, which is 21st in batting average (.256) and 23rd in runs (132), is hitting .368 against the Cincinnati bullpen and has scored 18 runs—17 in the eighth inning—in 13 2-3 innings against Reds relievers.
“We’ll take it,” Astros manager Phil Garner told the team’s official Web site. “It sure does seem like we’re grinding teeth and pulling hair until we get there. Somehow, we manage to have something happen.”
Wandy Rodriguez (0-3, 4.09 ERA) again tries for his first win of the year in his second consecutive start against Cincinnati. On Thursday, Rodriguez held the Reds to two runs and six hits in seven innings, but failed to factor in the decision in Houston’s 7-5 comeback win.
The left-hander struck out a career-high eight batters en route to his fourth quality start in five outings.
“I’ve seen him pitch pretty good, but what’s really encouraging is this is now a string of good outings,” Garner said.
Despite his recent run of success, Rodriguez is winless in his last 17 appearances, including 11 starts, dating back to last season. He is 0-8 since beating Texas on July 2.
Rodriguez hasn’t had the same tough luck in his career against the Reds. He is 2-1 with a 6.05 ERA in four lifetime starts versus Cincinnati.
Ken Griffey Jr. is 6-for-8 with a home run against Rodriguez. He is batting .444 (12-for-27) in May, and .306 (15-for-49) at home.
For the Reds, Monday’s game was the latest in a series of bullpen struggles. Cincinnati relievers have converted only one of their four save opportunities since April 15, and have a 10.54 ERA in six games against Houston.
“I was going after him,” said Todd Coffey, who gave up Scott’s homer and has allowed four runs in three innings against Houston. “I was thinking, I’ve got him right here. Let’s get him out.”
Alex Gonzalez had his second multi-homer game of the season, and is batting .370 (20-for-54) in his last 13 games. The shortstop is batting just .237, though, at Great American Ball Park.
The Reds will send their own winless left-hander to the mound as Eric Milton (0-4, 4.85) gets the start. After losing his first four outings, Milton also failed to get a decision Thursday when he yielded four runs in five innings against Rodriguez.
Milton is 3-1 with a 3.68 ERA in nine career starts against the Astros.