That combination could make for a long afternoon for the slumping Astros in Sunday’s series finale, as the NL Central-leading Reds look to complete a sweep.
Cincinnati (30-22) matched season highs with 14 hits and four homers Saturday, scoring its most runs of the year in a 12-9 win over Houston. Votto, Drew Stubbs, Ryan Ludwick and Todd Frazier all went deep, while Brandon Phillips doubled in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning and added two more RBIs in the eighth for the Reds, who won despite blowing an 8-2 lead after two innings.
“You know you’re going to have to win games like that,” Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said. “Especially if you’re going to go a long ways, you’ve got to figure out how to win them.”
Having Votto in his lineup certainly helps.
The 2010 NL MVP went 4 for 4 with two RBIs, three runs and a walk Saturday, and is batting .581 with two homers, five doubles and 10 runs scored during a nine-game hitting streak. He’s also riding a 20-game hitting streak at Minute Maid Park, batting .494 with five home runs, 15 doubles, and 19 RBIs during that run.
If that weren’t enough to strike fear into the Astros (22-31), Votto is 4 for 5 with a homer and two doubles lifetime against Jordan Lyles (0-1, 5.73 ERA), Sunday’s scheduled starter for Houston.
Arroyo (2-3, 3.59), meanwhile, is 8-0 with a 1.70 ERA in his last nine starts against Houston since August 2008. The last time he faced the Astros, he threw a six-hitter in the Reds’ 2-0 home victory Sept. 21.
Arroyo hasn’t been particularly sharp lately, yielding four runs in three of his last four starts. The right-hander allowed four runs and eight hits Monday in a season-low four innings of a 4-1 loss to Pittsburgh.
Arroyo will have to contend with a Houston team that has plated at least five runs in five of its last six games, though that hasn’t allowed the Astros to end a losing streak that now stands at eight.
Jose Altuve, Jed Lowrie, J.D. Martinez and Chris Johnson combined to go 9 for 16 with six RBIs and scored seven times Saturday, but the Astros still lost. Altuve is batting .372 with nine runs in his last nine games, while Martinez is hitting .412 with four RBIs in his last four.
“They put themselves in a position to win a game,” manager Brad Mills said. “When you come back from a deficit like that, that shows a lot of heart.”
Houston hasn’t dropped nine a row since Sept. 13-22, 2009, and giving the ball to Lyles might not be the best way to snap the skid considering the Astros have lost all four of his starts.
The right-hander gave up six runs and six hits in five innings of Monday’s 7-6 loss to Colorado. He made his season debut in Cincinnati on April 29, getting no decision in the Astros’ 6-5 loss after yielding three runs in six innings.