Lee caps Astros’ comeback with ninth-inning single in 4-3 win over Cincinnati

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CINCINNATI (AP)—Carlos Lee would have preferred a playoff berth, but he’ll settle for a personal best.

Lee set a career high for RBIs with a tie-breaking, ninth-inning single as the Houston Astros beat Cincinnati 4-3 on Thursday night to complete a three-game sweep of the Reds.

“It feels good to go out and have the satisfaction that you did the job— that you did everything you could,” said the left fielder, signed by Houston as a free agent during the offseason. “You’d rather be in another situation, like a celebration for clinching the playoffs, but things don’t always work out the way you want.”

Ty Wigginton doubled off the wall in left field with one out against Gary Majewski (0-4) and he scored on Lee’s single to left. Lee went to second on the throw home and advanced to third on Majewski’s throwing error before scoring on Eric Bruntlett’s single.

“You know there’s going to be a play at the plate, and if he’s out, you want to be in scoring position for the next guy,” said Lee, who drove in a combined 116 runs with Milwaukee and Texas last season. “I was almost at second when I saw the ball go over the shortstop’s head, so I kept on running.”

Cincinnati right-hander Matt Belisle was perfect through six innings but he couldn’t help the Reds avoid being swept by the Astros in a three-game series in Cincinnati for the first time since Aug. 30-Sept. 1, 2004.

“It was just a great flow,” Belisle said. “They were swinging, and we were getting ahead. It was a great feeling.”

It was the Reds’ fifth consecutive loss, one shy of their season high, and the Astros swept their first road series of more than two games this season in their last chance.

“First sweep on the road is nice—really, really nice,” interim manager Cecil Cooper said. “Guys just keep doing what they do and playing hard.”

Dave Borkowski (5-3) pitched a perfect eighth inning for the win. Brad Lidge gave up a run in the bottom of the ninth but earned his 18th save in 26 opportunities.

Lidge walked Jorge Cantu and David Ross to lead off the inning and they were sacrificed to second and third. Cantu scored on Javier Valentin’s single, but Lidge got two fielder’s choice grounders to end the game.

Belisle retired the first 18 batters he faced and the Reds led 2-0 before Josh Anderson led off the seventh with a clean single to left.

Anderson moved to third on Chris Burke’s double and Cody Ransom walked to load the bases. Anderson scored on Lee’s double-play grounder before Hunter Pence tied the game with a single to center.

Belisle was lifted for a pinch hitter in the seventh after giving up three hits and two runs with a walk and four strikeouts.

Edwin Encarnacion gave the Reds a 2-0 lead against left-hander Wandy Rodriguez in the first inning with his 16th home run of the season and first in 27 at-bats, but with Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn lost for the season with injuries, the Reds couldn’t add to their lead.

“We’ve got some of our bench guys playing in the game, and it’s hard to score—understandably so,” Reds interim manager Pete Mackanin said.

Rodriguez allowed four hits and two runs in seven innings with three walks and six strikeouts.

Notes

The Reds brought INF Mark Bellhorn up from the minor leagues and transferred LHP Bobby Livingston was transferred to the 60-day DL. … 1B Lance Berkman was scratched from interim manager Cecil Cooper’s original starting lineup because of a sore right knee. Mike Lamb was moved from third base to first base and Ransom was inserted at third base. … The last pitcher to throw a complete game no-hitter against Houston was right-hander Jim Maloney in a 10-0 win at Cincinnati’s Crosley Field on April 30, 1969.

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