Houston (56-59) at Cincinnati (52-65)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Cincinnati, OH, US
Temp: 80° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Sat Aug 9, 2008
  • TV: FSSW, FSOH
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Carlos Lee has been one of baseball’s hottest hitters over the last seven weeks, and his success at the plate has helped fuel an unexpected surge by the Houston Astros.

Bronson Arroyo, meanwhile, has been one of the few bright spots on the mound for the Cincinnati Reds lately.

Lee looks to lead the Astros to their 11th win in 15 games as the club matches up against Arroyo and the Reds on Saturday night at Great American Ball Park.

Since June 20, Lee is leading the majors with a .390 batting average and 47 RBIs while ranking fifth with 13 home runs. He’s also second with a .683 slugging percentage and third with a .451 on-base percentage in that stretch.

“Over the last couple of months, I don’t think there’s been a better player in the league - not just hitting, but fielding, too,” Astros manager Cecil Cooper said after Lee went 4-for-5 with a home run, three RBIs and three runs scored in Houston’s 9-5, 10-inning win over Cincinnati on Friday night.

Lee hit a tiebreaking two-run double in the 10th to lead Houston (56-59) to its 10th win in 14 games since the team fell into last place in the NL Central on July 23. The go-ahead hit was just out of reach of center fielder Corey Patterson, who got a glove on the ball before it dropped.

“I knew I hit it well, but I saw him dive for the ball and said, ‘Noooo,’” Lee said. “When things are going your way, they fall.”

Reds manager Dusty Baker expressed the opposite sentiment after his club lost for the 12th time in 14 games.

“When things are going bad, what can go bad will go bad,” Baker said. “It doesn’t last forever, but when you’re in it, it feels like it.”

Pitching woes are at the center of Cincinnati’s problems. The Reds (52-65) are second-to-last in the NL with a 5.36 ERA since the All-Star break, but Arroyo (10-8, 5.55 ERA) can’t shoulder too much of the blame. The right-hander has been on the mound for three of the Reds’ six wins in the second half, and he’s posted a 3.95 ERA in that stretch.

Since giving up a career-high 10 runs in one inning of a loss to Toronto on June 24, Arroyo is 6-1 with a 3.65 ERA in seven starts. He beat Milwaukee 6-3 on Monday, holding the Brewers to one run and four hits in six innings. He also drove in two runs with a fifth-inning double.

“Any time you can help the team out, especially with an RBI, is kind of lucky,” he told the Reds’ official Web site. “But if it can happen a few times, then you feel better about the whole game as a complete package.”

Lee is 10-for-28 (.357) with a home run and three doubles lifetime against Arroyo.

The Astros will hand the ball to Brian Moehler (7-4, 4.01), who has allowed two runs in 13 2-3 innings spanning his last two starts - both wins. After holding the Reds to two runs in 8 2-3 innings on July 29, he gave up only four hits in five innings of a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Monday.

Moehler, who spent all of last season as a reliever, hasn’t won three straight starts since a four-game run from July 2-20, 2005. He’s 1-4 with a 5.86 ERA in nine career games - six starts - against the Reds.

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Starting Pitchers

B. Moehler HOU vs. B. Arroyo WAS
11-8 Record 15-11
4.56 ERA 4.77
82 K 163
36 BB 68
1.35 WHIP 1.44

Scoreboard

Saturday, Aug 9