The Houston Astros snapped a long losing streak to give interim manager Dave Clark his first win in their last game. They’ll have to end a similar skid against the Cincinnati Reds to get Clark another one this weekend.
The Astros look to avoid an eighth straight loss to the Reds as the NL Central rivals meet Friday night in Houston.
The Astros (71-81) had dropped nine in a row before defeating first-place St. Louis 3-0 on Wednesday night. Carlos Lee(notes) drove in two runs and Bud Norris(notes) pitched six strong innings to give Clark his first win in three games since taking over for the fired Cecil Cooper on Monday.
The Cardinals’ loss kept their magic number for clinching the division at one.
“It’s awesome,” said Clark, previously the Astros’ third base coach. “The guys came out and were ready to go. They did not want them to celebrate here, especially after the Cubs lost. We just went out there, played good baseball got the lead and was able to hold onto it.”
While this weekend’s three-game series against the Reds (72-81) will carry no playoff implications, the Astros aren’t at a loss for motivation. They’ve lost seven straight against Cincinnati, their longest skid in the series since dropping 11 in a row during the 1995 season.
The Reds have won 10 of 13 against the Astros this year, clinching their second season series win in nine years.
Three of Cincinnati’s wins over Houston have come during its 8-2 stretch over the last 10 days. Bronson Arroyo(notes) pitched seven innings and beat out what would have been an inning-ending double play to start a four-run, fourth-inning rally as the Reds completed a three-game sweep of Pittsburgh with a 4-1 victory Thursday.
“That shows you what hustle and speed will get for you,” manager Dusty Baker said.
Baker’s club will try to continue its recent hot streak against a Houston pitcher it hasn’t had much success against lately. Brian Moehler(notes) (8-10, 4.86 ERA) is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in five games - two starts - against the Reds since signing with the Astros before the 2007 season.
The right-hander, who hasn’t faced the Reds in 2009, lasted at least seven innings in both his starts against them last season, going 2-0 with a 1.72 ERA.
Moehler hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his seven starts since Aug. 15, going 1-2 with a 3.40 ERA. He held Milwaukee to two runs in six innings Saturday, failing to get a decision in Houston’s 7-2 defeat on the road.
In a spot start last Thursday, the left-handed rookie held Florida to two runs over five innings of a 3-2 victory. He couldn’t throw all of his pitches because of a blister on his middle finger that hadn’t healed completely.
Maloney has never faced Houston.