Astros launch 3 homers in 13-4 win over Reds

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CINCINNATI (AP)—The Houston Astros looked mighty fine a day after losing slugger Carlos Lee.

In their first game after the National League’s RBI leader suffered an injury that could keep him out for the rest of the regular season, Houston set season highs with eight extra-base hits and 13 runs while rolling to their biggest win of the season, 13-4 over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday.

Michael Bourn homered and drove in a career-high four runs and Lance Berkman and Geoff Blum also went deep to help the Astros post their eighth victory in their last 10 games.

Their 13 runs, the most scored by Houston since an 18-1 win at St. Louis last Sept. 20, came fewer than 24 hours after Lee broke his left pinkie when he was hit by a pitch. He is expected to be sidelined for 6-to-8 weeks.

“Carlos already had (100) RBIs by mid-August,” Bourn said. “That’s hard to do. We’re just trying to pick up the slack. It was a good day, all the way around.”

Said manager Cecil Cooper: “We said people have to step up. Today is a prime example that we’re capable of doing it.”

The sweep was the Astros’ first of a four-game series in Cincinnati since May 21-24, 2004. The Reds have dropped a season-high six straight and 14 of their last 16.

“That was some week here—a bad week,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “Not just bad games, but a bad week.”

Wandy Rodriguez (7-4) retired the first 14 batters he faced on the way to his fourth win in his last five starts. He lasted 6 2-3 innings, allowing five hits and two runs with one walk and seven strikeouts.

Aaron Harang (3-12), activated from the disabled list before the game after not pitching since July 8 because of stiffness in his right forearm, set a career high by allowing eight earned runs in just four innings. Houston tagged him for nine hits and a walk.

“Physically, I felt good,” Harang said. “Everything I threw was right over the middle of the plate. Early on, especially in the first inning, they were sitting on my slider. That’s definitely not the way I wanted to come back.”

For the fourth time in the series, Houston scored in the first inning, this time plating five runs on RBI doubles by Miguel Tejada and Blum, and Bourn’s three-run homer. It was his fifth of the season and first in 83 at bats since June 25.

“I just caught it in the right spot,” Bourn said. “It was off-speed—a slider.”

Houston outscored the Reds by a total of 9-0 in the first innings of the series.

“It’s like a broken record, getting behind by a lot early,” Baker said. “I can’t remember a clean, 1-2-3 first inning. It’s been a while. It makes for a long day and a long week.”

Rodriguez led off the second inning with a double through the drawn-in Reds outfield and up the left-center field gap to the wall. Darin Erstad drove him in from third one out later with a single to center.

Berkman led off the third inning with his 23rd homer of the season, and first in 113 at-bats since June 30. It was his 19th at Great American Ball Park, more than any other visitor. Blum followed on Harang’s next pitch with his 11th homer of the season.

“They’re hitting the ball, and they’re hitting it early,” Baker said. “You get behind and you get the ball up, and they’re whacking it.”

Edwin Encarnacion broke up Rodriguez’s perfect game with a solo homer to left in the fifth inning, his 22nd homer of the season. Jolbert Cabrera added a home run in the sixth inning, his first since Sept. 5, 2004, for Seattle at Chicago.

Houston broke it open with a five-run eighth, including Bourn’s run-scoring single. Ryan Hanigan added a two-run homer, the first of his career, for the Reds in the ninth.


Houston manager Cecil Cooper, reacting to an Internet report that the Astros were going to sign career home run leader Barry Bonds as a free agent, said, “Bonds is not a fit for us. If he would come, I would go. I wouldn’t want to deal with it.” … The Reds recalled C Hanigan from Triple-A Louisville, optioned RHP Homer Bailey to Louisville and designated C David Ross for assignment. … Reds OF Jay Bruce went 0-for-4, snapping his hitting streak at 13 games. … The Reds were outscored in the first inning 11-2 while going 1-6 over their seven-game homestand. They fell behind before their first turn at bat in five of the games.

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