The Astros look to continue their dominance of the Reds on Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game series at Minute Maid Park.
Houston (66-65) has won 12 of the last 13 meetings with Cincinnati (57-74), hitting .315 with 21 homers and 91 runs. The Astros’ only loss to the Reds in that span was 9-5 at home on July 30, and they responded by sweeping a four-game set in Cincinnati from Aug. 7-10 to improve to 8-1 in the season series.
Houston hopes that success can continue after losing 9-1 at NL East-leading New York on Monday to settle for a split of that four-game series.
The Astros will give the ball to Wandy Rodriguez (7-6, 4.11 ERA), who looks to overcome his control problems in order to avoid a third consecutive loss.
The left-hander struggled with his control Wednesday, giving up three runs and three hits with six strikeouts and five walks in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-2 loss at Milwaukee. That subpar outing came after he walked a season-high six in just 2 1-3 innings while allowing four runs and three hits in a 12-2 defeat to Arizona.
“He pitched, I guess, well enough to win,” Astros manager Cecil Cooper told the team’s official Web site after Wednesday’s loss. “He held them at bay, even though he gave up three runs, a lot of walks, missed the zone a lot. Again, he did not have his curveball. He continued to hold the game close, and he had some tough innings, but I thought he battled pretty good.”
Rodriguez is 1-3 with a 7.43 ERA in five career home starts against the Reds, including the loss on July 30 when he was reached for six runs and nine hits—three homers—in 4 2-3 innings. However, he beat them on the road Aug. 10 by allowing two runs and five hits while fanning seven in 6 2-3 innings of a 13-4 victory.
The Reds have dropped 14 of their last 21, including a sloppy 4-3, 12-inning loss at Colorado on Sunday. They appeared to be in position to take the three-game series, but committed five errors Sunday, with two coming in the ninth inning along with a balk to squander a one-run lead.
Cincinnati hopes Bronson Arroyo (11-10, 5.32) can help it move on from that dismal performance with another strong outing.
The right-hander allowed one run and three hits with a career high-tying five walks in seven innings of a 2-1 win at NL Central-leading Chicago on Wednesday.
“He had a lot of pitches early,” Reds manager Dusty Baker told the team’s official Web site. “I think he was at 45, 50 pitches in the third inning. Then he shortened the innings down and they did some first-ball hitting, which helped us. He threw a lot of first-pitch strikes.”
Arroyo is 1-6 with a 7.30 ERA in his last nine starts against Houston.