CINCINNATI (AP)—Same inning. Same rally. Same disbelief for the Reds.
“It’s hard to believe you could have back-to-back nights where you give up five runs in the eighth inning,” Reds manager Jerry Narron said.
The Astros believed it the entire time.
They scored five runs in the eighth inning for a 7-2 victory on Wednesday night, with Jason Lane’s three-run homer leading the way. That was still fresh in their minds when they headed into the eighth trailing 6-2 this time around.
“In any situation, whenever you come back like that, it’s positive energy,” Scott said. “It builds confidence for everybody.”
Manager Phil Garner could sense it, too.
“There was a feeling like we were in the ballgame,” Garner said.
Lance Berkman started the comeback sequel with a run-scoring single—his 100th career RBI against the Reds—and the Astros loaded the bases against closer David Weathers (0-2), who was summoned early with the game slipping away.
Weathers hadn’t blown a save chance all season. The Reds made two errors behind him in the eighth to help this one get away.
“That’s the way it’s going right now,” said starter Bronson Arroyo, who left after the seventh with a 6-2 lead.
Scott, who had homered in the seventh, drove a ball to the wall in right-center field to score three runs for a 6-all tie. Scott later scored on Morgan Ensberg’s sacrifice fly, which brought a cascade of boos from the crowd of 14,222.
Lane added a solo homer in the ninth, the first pinch-hit homer by an Astro this season.
Houston has won seven of eight, including back-to-back rallies against a bullpen that hadn’t given up a late lead all season.
Until the eighth-inning meltdown, the fans were reveling in Josh Hamilton’s latest feats. He added a curtain call to his inspiring comeback story, hitting a three-run homer for a 6-1 lead after five innings.
During spring training, Hamilton was a curiosity. The former No. 1 overall draft pick was out of baseball for more than three years while fighting through alcohol and drug addiction.
Three weeks into the season, he’s a Cincinnati sensation. The 25-year-old outfielder has a team-high five homers in only 30 at-bats, forcing manager Jerry Narron to find a place for him in the lineup every day.
“He’s a feel-good story,” said right-hander Woody Williams, who gave up the homer. “It’s going to be hard not to root for this guy to put a solid season in, on and off the field.”
Brandon Phillips also homered for the second time in the two-game series, and Arroyo turned a tidy lead over to the bullpen in the eighth. The Reds have lost all of Arroyo’s four starts this season.
Williams, who got a two-year, $12.5 million deal to pitch for his hometown team last November, also failed to get a win for the fourth time. The 40-year-old pitcher has been hit hard with Houston, posting a 6.55 ERA.
“I’m going through a rough stretch right now,” Williams said.
Both teams took a few moments to honor Vern Ruhle before the game. Ruhle pitched for the Astros and was the Reds’ pitching coach when he got cancer last year. He died from complications in January.
A replica jersey was unveiled above the Reds’ bullpen in center field. Ruhle’s widow, Sue, threw a ceremonial pitch to Cincinnati right-hander Aaron Harang, who gave her a warm hug afterward.
RHP Matt Albers makes his season debut and his third career start in Milwaukee on Friday. Albers was called up from Triple-A when RHP Jason Jennings went on the 15-day DL on Monday with a sore elbow. … Ensberg’s double in the fifth extended his hitting streak to seven games. … The Astros are 5-1 on the road, their best such start since they won seven of their first eight road games in 2004. … Reds LHP Mike Stanton made his 1,118th career appearance, leaving him one behind John Franco for second place on the career list. Jesse Orosco holds the record at 1,252. … Hamilton started in RF for Ken Griffey Jr., who was sick.