Reds 3, Astros 1

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HOUSTON (AP)—Paul Wilson is making it tough for the Houston Astros to stay atop the NL Central.

Wilson beat Houston for the second time in a week and Juan Castro hit a two-run double as the Cincinnati Reds defeated the Astros 3-1 Saturday night.

The Reds won for the second straight day at Minute Maid Park and have taken four of their last five against the NL Central leaders. Last Sunday, Wilson was the winner as Cincinnati clinched the three-game series.

“We’ve gone through a lot of trades but we still have 25 big league players here and we have to be professional and do our jobs,” Wilson said. “It’s a weird game. I’ve never figured it out and probably never will.”

The Astros lost for the eighth time in 11 games and fell into a tie for first with St. Louis, which beat Philadelphia 5-3.

“I’m past the point of being alarmed,” Astros star Jeff Bagwell said. “We have to find a way to get better.”

Reds interim manager Dave Miley lauded his team’s spirit.

“That’s the kind of thing we do,” Miley said. “We do it by scratching and clawing. I looked at our lineup and I don’t know our home run total. We have to be able to go out and play without those guys in our lineup.”

The Reds have 10 players on their roster that were with the team on opening day because of trades and injuries.

Wilson (8-10), who had won only two of his previous eight decisions, didn’t allow a runner to reach third base until the seventh inning when Richard Hidalgo doubled with two out and scored on Brad Ausmus’ single.

Wilson pitched seven innings and allowed one run and five hits.

“That was nice since the last time I pitched here I didn’t record an out,” Wilson said. “But it seems the last month I’ve been getting stronger and stronger. I’ve been able to get loose and able to throw harder.”

Chris Reitsma worked a perfect ninth for his fifth save in 10 opportunities.

The Reds took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on Castro’s hit. Tim Redding (8-12) was lucky he didn’t fall farther behind because of early wildness.

Redding hit leadoff batter Ruben Mateo with a pitch and walked Dernell Stenson before Castro hit an opposite-field double to right.

“I was trying to go to the other side and I hit it perfect,” Castro said. “I was just trying to hit it somewhere and help this team.”

Redding struck out Jason LaRue, walked Wilson and then struck out Reggie Taylor. D’Angelo Jimenez flied out on a 3-0 pitch to end the inning.

“Excluding that one inning when he was wild, Redding had a strong game for us,” Astros manager Jimy Williams said. “We just didn’t hit. Castro had that one big hit off Redding. It’s one of those games where you need just one hitter to tie it.”

Taylor doubled in the fifth and scored on Jimenez’s single for a 3-0 lead.

Hidalgo extended his major league lead to 19 outfield assists in the thirdinning when he threw out Sean Casey trying to stretch a single into a double.

Notes

The Reds signed RHP Richie Gardner, their sixth-round pick in the June 2003 draft. The Reds have signed 11 of their top 13 picks. … The Reds placed SS Barry Larkin on the disabled list for the third time this season. He sprained the ring finger on his left hand in Friday night’s game. Larkin’s injury leaves the Reds with only 10 players active from their opening dayroster. Only Casey and LaRue are left from the opening day starting lineup.

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