Houston (18-25) at Cincinnati (23-20)

Fair Currently: Cincinnati, OH
Temp: 77° F
  • Game info: 1:10 pm EDT Mon May 25, 2009
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Houston hasn’t found much of an advantage at Minute Maid Park this season, but it sure has made itself at home at Great American Ball Park.

After dropping five of six at home, the slumping Astros open a six-game trip Monday afternoon against the Cincinnati Reds, losers of 17 of 19 at home to Houston.

Houston (18-24) dropped its fourth straight at Minute Maid Park on Sunday, 5-0 to Texas, but arrive in Cincinnati with a 32-16-1 record at the six-year-old Great American Ball Park.

“Every time we play here, we play great,” Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez(notes) said April 28 after improving to 3-0 with a 3.62 ERA in five career starts in Cincinnati.

Rodriguez (5-2, 1.83 ERA) takes the mound looking to win his fourth straight start. He is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA in two starts versus the Reds this season, most recently an 8-3 win on April 28, when he yielded one run in seven innings. That victory was the Astros’ 11th straight in Cincinnati - a franchise record for consecutive wins at an opposing ballpark that was snapped with a 3-0 loss the following day.

Rodriguez opens this three-game set with a 4-0 record and 1.85 ERA in his last five starts. In Wednesday’s 6-4 victory over Milwaukee, he gave up one run and six hits in seven innings.

Rodriguez has yielded one or fewer runs in six of nine starts.

“He’s becoming, every day, the guy we thought he could be,” said Houston manager Cecil Cooper.

Cincinnati’s Aaron Harang(notes) (4-4, 3.19) delivered one of his best outings of the season in Wednesday’s 5-1 win over Philadelphia, matching a season high with nine strikeouts while allowing one run in seven innings.

“He carved up two or three of our hitters, he really carved ‘em up,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

Harang, however, is 0-2 with an 8.18 ERA in two starts against Houston this season. The right-hander took the loss April 28, giving up five runs in five innings.

Harang and Rodriguez also started April 18 in Houston as the Astros limited the Reds (23-20) to two hits in a 7-0 victory. Rodriguez struck out 10 in seven innings while Harang allowed a season-worst 10 hits.

The Astros are hitting .327 off Harang this season. Cincinnati, meanwhile, is batting .152 against Rodriguez in 2009.

Miguel Tejada(notes) extended his hitting streak to eight games and raised his batting average to .345 with Sunday’s 4-for-4 effort. He is batting .379 as the Astros have dropped four of seven to the Reds this season.

Lance Berkman(notes), who batted .200 during the Astros’ 1-5 homestand, is hitting .229 (11 for 48) lifetime against Harang, but has the most career homers (6) versus the right-hander.

Geoff Blum(notes) is 10 for 17 lifetime against Harang, but he is day to day after straining his left hamstring Sunday.

Reds shortstop Alex Gonzalez had three RBIs, including the game-winning double, in Sunday’s 4-3 victory in 11 innings over Cleveland. He batted .583 (7 for 12) with four RBIs in the three games against the Indians. Gonzalez, though, is 2 for 14 lifetime versus Rodriguez.

First baseman Joey Votto(notes) did not start Sunday due to dizziness, but he walked as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning.

“He’s still feeling the effects (of an inner ear infection),” said Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker.

Second baseman Brandon Phillips(notes) could play in the upcoming series despite a hairline fracture in his right thumb suffered Saturday.

“I just need to give it a couple of days,” he said after sitting Sunday.

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Starting Pitchers

W. Rodríguez KC vs. A. Harang Phi
14-12 Record 6-14
3.02 ERA 4.21
193 K 142
63 BB 43
1.24 WHIP 1.41


Monday, May 25