CINCINNATI (AP)—David Weathers knows as well as anybody how bad Cincinnati’s bullpen has been this season.
The frustration boiled over Tuesday night after rookie reliever Brad Salmon (0-1) gave up a 6-5 lead and the veteran Weathers allowed a ninth-inning run that proved to be the difference in Houston’s 7-6 win over the Reds.
“We know we’re blowing games,” Weathers said in a slightly raised voice while responding to a reporter’s question. “It hurts us personally. It’s more frustrating for us than for anybody.”
Lance Berkman’s second home run in two nights overshadowed the 568th of Ken Griffey Jr.’s career and Morgan Ensberg’s double in the ninth drove in Luke Scott with the run that sent the Reds to their sixth loss in their last seven games.
The Reds bullpen went into the game with one save since April 15 and the worst combined ERA (4.61) in the National League. Todd Coffey allowed a three-run homer to Scott on Monday that snapped a 2-2 tie and led to Houston’s 5-4 win.
“Nobody feels worse than us when (starters) go out and constantly pitch ballgames and then we give it up,” Weathers said. “(Manager) Jerry (Narron) can’t feel like, every time he goes to the bullpen, he doesn’t know what he’s getting. For the first couple weeks of the season, we were the best thing since sliced bread. Now, we’re a necessary evil.”
“We’re going to give them opportunities,” Narron said. “We’re going to stay with these guys, They’re capable of getting outs, and that’s what we expect.”
Trailing 5-4 in the top of the seventh, Berkman lofted an 0-1 pitch from Salmon (0-1) the opposite way into the seats in left field with Craig Biggio on first base.
“He’s a good hitter,” Salmon said. “I came in with the first pitch, and I was trying to go down and away, but I missed my spot. It was a little up. He’s paid to hit mistakes, and I made a mistake.”
“I didn’t know what he threw,” Berkman said. “From the guys before me, it looked like he had a pretty good fastball. I wasn’t trying to hit a home run. I was just trying to be quick.”
Berkman’s homer was his 14th at Great American Ball Park, the most by any opponent. Berkman has 37 career homers and 106 RBIs against Cincinnati, his highest totals against any team.
After Ensberg hit an RBI double in the ninth to give Houston a two-run lead, Brandon Phillips hit his sixth homer of the year with one out off closer Dan Wheeler to pull the Reds within 7-6. Wheeler recovered to notch his seventh save in eight opportunities, giving the Astros three wins in their last four games.
“(Coming from behind) is a great trait to have,” Houston manager Phil Garner said. “Once you do that a few times, you start to believe.”
Griffey followed a Phillips single with his fifth home run to give Cincinnati a 5-4 lead in the fifth inning. He lined a 1-2 pitch from left-hander Wandy Rodriguez into the right-field seats.
Griffey’s homer left him one behind Rafael Palmeiro for ninth place on baseball’s career homer list. He’s hit all five of his home runs in his last 11 games.
The homer left Griffey hitting .800 (8-for-10) with two homers in his career against Rodriguez.
Cincinnati starter Eric Milton lasted 5 1-3 innings, giving up seven hits and four runs. He remained winless in his last 13 starts dating back to August.
Rodriguez allowed eight hits and five runs, walking two and striking out five in 5 2-3 innings. He hasn’t won in 12 starts since Houston’s 9-5 win at Texas last July 2.
Freel drove in Cincinnati’s first run with a third inning double, and Milton drove in two runs with a single up the middle in the fourth to cut Houston’s lead to 4-3.
Milton has allowed at least one first-inning run in each of his last five starts. … Lee’s homer was his first in 77 at-bats dating back to April 17 in a 6-1 win over Florida. … Houston’s starting lineup against the left-handed Milton had seven right-handed batters and two switch-hitters, Berkman and Rodriguez. … Berkman has reached base in 26 consecutive games. … Harmon Killebrew is eighth on the home-run list with 573, five ahead of Griffey.