Astros 6, Reds 3

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HOUSTON (AP)—Jeriome Robertson felt real comfortable Sunday—he was facing a familiar opponent and throwing to a familiar face.

Robertson stayed unbeaten against Cincinnati and tied the club record for wins by a rookie left-hander as the Houston Astros defeated the Reds 6-3.

Robertson (12-6) made his first 24 starts this season with veteran catcher Gregg Zaun behind the plate. But Zaun was released last week and the Astros brought up Raul Chavez from Triple-A New Orleans.

Robertson and Chavez know each other well. They were batterymates in the minors the last three seasons, including all of last year when Robertson was the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year.

“I know him and he knows me,” Robertson said. “He’s a great defensive catcher and he calls a good game.”

“He didn’t know these hitters as much, but we talked about them before the game. Zaunie was a good catcher and helped me a lot. But when he left, I thought it was a plus when I heard we were bringing up Chavez. I feel good with him out there.”

Chavez, who went 2-for-4, enjoyed catching Robertson.

“I feel comfortable with him since I’ve caught him the last three years in the minors,” Chavez said. “I know what he can do and I know the pitches he likes to throw. When you know a pitcher like that, everything is good. He and I talked a lot the last three days about the Reds hitters, so I felt good.”

The Astros remained tied with St. Louis for the NL Central lead.

Richard Hidalgo homered, tripled and hit a go-ahead single for Houston. He drove in three runs and picked up his 20th assist, most among major league outfielders.

Robertson has won all four of his starts against the Reds this season with a 2.42 ERA in those games. He went seven innings and allowed two runs on four hits and five walks. He struck out five.

He tied the club mark of 12 victories by a lefty rookie set by Jim Deshaies in 1986. Roy Oswalt set the overall club mark for rookies with 14 in 2001.

“Robertson set the tone of the game by the way he pitched,” manager Jimy Williams said. “He stepped up when we needed him. He likes to pitch. Regardless of the results, he likes to go out there. He was impressive against some aggressive hitters today.”

The Reds were impressed.

“He pitched a great game,” Ryan Freel said. “He mixed up his pitches. He was able to throw all of his pitches for strikes.

“He got us to chase some bad pitches here and there. He makes it tough for a hitter to sit on a pitch because he mixes it up so much and keeps you off balance.”

Jason LaRue agreed.

“Every time we’ve played against him, he’s been good,” LaRue said. “He kept the ball down and did a good job. That’s the name of the game. If you keep the ball down, your results are usually going to be good.”

Billy Wagner pitched a scoreless ninth for his 36th save in 39 chances.

Reliever Brian Reith (1-3) took the loss, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk while getting only two outs.

John Bale went 4 2-3 innings and allowed two runs and six hits in his fourth start for the Reds.

Sean Casey hit his 12th homer in the Reds’ second and Hidalgo connected in the bottom half.

Craig Biggio’s RBI double put the Astros ahead 2-1 in the third. The Reds tied it in the fourth on Ruben Mateo’s double and LaRue’s single.

Hidalgo had an RBI single in the sixth and Jason Lane hit his first homer, a two-run shot, later in the inning.

D’Angelo Jimenez led off the Reds’ eighth with a home run off relieverOctavio Dotel. Hidalgo’s RBI triple in the bottom half made it 6-3.

Notes

Astros pinch-hitters have gone 0-for-11 since Tuesday. … Casey’s homer snapped his string of 84 at-bats without a home run. He also had not had an extra-base hit since Aug. 5. … Jeff Bagwell got the 2,100th hit of his career in his 7,000th career at-bat in the eighth inning. But he was only 2-for-13 in the Reds series. … Reds CF Reggie Taylor had to leave the game in the eighth after diving for Hidalgo’s triple. LaRue switched from catcher to left field after that. It was only the third time in his career LaRue hadplayed in the outfield, the last two coming in 2001.

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