Astros 12, Reds 2

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HOUSTON (AP)—Jeriome Robertson had been in this situation before. This time, he handled it the right way.

Robertson became the first Houston rookie to win seven straight decisions as the Astros beat the Cincinnati Reds 12-2 Wednesday night.

Robertson (8-3) hasn’t lost since April 25, a span of 13 starts. He leads the team in victories with a 4.87 ERA.

Adam Everett hit his first career grand slam to highlight a six-run first inning as the Astros won their third in a row and sent Cincinnati to its seventh straight loss. The Reds’ slump is their longest since an eight-game skid in June 2002.

Back on May 1 when he had a 1-3 record, Robertson had a 4-0 lead in the third inning against Atlanta. He wound up blowing the edge, got a no-decision and was sent down to Triple-A New Orleans for 10 days.

“I learned my lesson from that,” Robertson said. “I had a good lead and I lost my focus. I gave up a load of runs and was pulled in the fourth.”

“You kind of let your guard down during those times. You’re not focusing like you should. It was a great lesson early in the year,” he said.

Robertson gave up one run and four hits in seven innings. He walked none and struck out seven and said Gregg Zaun, who catches all his games, has a lot to do with his success.

“I have to give credit to him,” Robertson said. “He is calling good games for me. He really mixes my pitches up.”

Zaun believes his job is to stay after Robertson.

“I’ve made it my personal mission to stay on his back the whole season,” Zaun said. “Early in the year, he lost his focus a few times. I accused him of cruising and I told him I wouldn’t let him do it again.”

“I’m just trying to keep the young man focused. This was a solid outing and it should be invaluable for him to look back on later in the season,” he said.

The Reds certainly thought Robertson was focused.

“He’s pretty sneaky,” Adam Dunn said. “He’s deceptive. He’s got good stuff. He changes speeds and he has a tight slider and that changeup to left-handers is tough to hit. He’s a quality big league pitcher.”

Danny Graves (4-9) made his third straight start on three days’ rest and struggled. He went five innings and allowed eight runs on nine hits and two walks.

Graves has gone 1-4 since he developed a blister on his right middle finger that caused him to miss a scheduled start June 11.

“He was close to getting out of the (first) inning,” manager Bob Boone said. “But he couldn’t execute the pitches. He was struggling mechanically and he kept getting behind the hitters. He didn’t start with much but after a while he got himself right. He just made too many bad pitches in the first inning.”

Lance Berkman and Richard Hidalgo hit consecutive homers for Houston and Zaun also connected.

Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 478th career home run and Juan Castro also homered for the Reds.

Everett set a career best with four RBIs with one swing, connecting for his fifth home run of the season. Hidalgo and Craig Biggio had three hits apiece for the Astros.

Zaun hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot in the fifth inning to make it 8-0.

Jeff Bagwell’s RBI single and back-to-back homers by Berkman and Hidalgo stretched the lead to 12-1 in the sixth.

Griffey hit his 10th home run in the sixth and Juan Castro hit his fifth inthe eighth.

Notes

Houston’s Geoff Blum increased his career-high hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the first inning … Everett’s slam was the Astros’ third of the season. Brad Ausmus and Morgan Ensberg hit them. … Biggio hit his 499th career double in the fourth. … Graves got the first stolen base of his career in the fifth inning. … It was the fifth time Houston has had back-to-back homers this season and the eighth time the Reds have allowedthem.

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