Astros 10, Reds 2

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HOUSTON (AP)—Finally, and all at once, everything clicked for the Houston Astros.

Lance Berkman hit a three-run homer and Woody Williams had a season-high nine strikeouts as the Astros snapped a 10-game losing streak with a 10-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night.

The Astros reached their highest run total in three weeks and matched a season high with 16 hits. Their five pitchers set a season high with 16 total strikeouts.

“You knew, sooner or later, it was going to end,” said Craig Biggio, who went 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored. “It was nice to end it in this fashion.”

Carlos Lee had a two-RBI double during a four-run third inning off Bronson Arroyo as the Astros won for just the second time in 14 games. One more loss would’ve matched the longest skid in franchise history, set in August 1995.

Williams (2-7) allowed seven hits and two walks in five innings. He threw 117 pitches, also a season high, to earn his first win in four starts.

“It was a fun night for everybody,” Williams said. “I know it’s one win, it’s not 15 in a row. But it sure seems like that.”

Houston scored four runs or fewer in 10 consecutive losses. Brad Ausmus gave the first hint that the Astros were going to finally shake out of their tailspin when he led off the third with just his third triple in four seasons.

Williams grounded out, but Biggio came through with an RBI single to left.

Mark Loretta singled and one out later, Lee lined a double into the left-field corner, scoring Biggio and Loretta. Rookie Hunter Pence followed with a double off the left-field wall to put Houston up 4-0, only the fifth time in 14 games the Astros had scored that many runs.

“It was a nice night, obviously,” said Houston manager Phil Garner. “One we definitely needed.”

Williams struck out six Reds in the first three innings, but also gave up three hits and a walk. The Reds loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth and Williams fanned Arroyo to end the threat.

“I was able to locate my fastball the way I need to,” Williams said. “I was ahead in the count most of the night.”

Scott Hatteberg doubled and scored on Brandon Phillips’ two-out single in the fifth. Adam Dunn then blooped a hit to shallow center to score Phillips and make it 4-2. Williams struck out Alex Gonzalez to end the inning and his night.

“Woody was just awesome tonight,” said Dunn. “When a pitcher is on like that, there’s not a lot you can do.”

In the Astros’ fifth, Biggio and Loretta had consecutive one-out singles off Arroyo (2-6) before Berkman hit a 3-2 pitch into the right-field seats, his first homer in 19 games. The four-time All-Star had only three hits in his previous 34 at-bats.

“You don’t want to be left out of the 10-run party,” Berkman said. “We did a good job up and down the lineup. It’s something we hadn’t been doing.”

The homer was Berkman’s only hit and the switch-hitting slugger said he’s still not feeling comfortable at the plate.

“It’s one of those things you have to go through at some point in your career,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that it’s been this year because I think it’s impacted this team negatively. I wish it wasn’t that way.”

Arroyo had thrown only six total innings in his previous two starts and Cincinnati manager Jerry Narron decided to keep him on the mound, even as the Astros pulled away.

Lee singled and Luke Scott tripled to score him later in the inning to make it 8-2.

“We really needed as many pitches out of him as we could to get him back on track,” Narron said. “It’s a shame he had two bad innings.”

Chad Moeller pinch-hit for Arroyo in the sixth. Arroyo gave up 11 hits with two strikeouts, losing for the fourth time in five starts.

“I hit my spots and thought I had good stuff,” Arroyo said. “Sometimes, you get beat around the yard. When you go through a stretch like this, sometimes you don’t get that luck of guys popping up a pitch across the plate.”

Rick White relieved Williams and the Reds loaded the bases again with two outs in the sixth. White got Ken Griffey, Jr. to fly out to deep center on a 3-2 pitch.

Scott and Adam Everett added RBI singles in the seventh off Mike Stanton.

Notes

Lee leads the NL with 48 RBIs. … Loretta’s single in the third inning was his 1,500th career hit. … The Reds have lost 10 of their last 14 road games. … The Astros reached their highest run total since a 10-4 win over Arizona on May 12. … Biggio has 2,977 hits. … Edwin Encarnacion had a career-high four hits.

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