Reds 2, Astros 1
HOUSTON (AP)—Scott Hatteberg thought he blew his chance to spark an eighth-inning rally. He made up for it on the next pitch.
Hatteberg hit a solo homer after blowing a hit-and-run play, Matt Belisle struck out a career-high eight and the Cincinnati Reds beat Houston 2-1 Tuesday night to hand the Astros their ninth consecutive loss.
Third base coach Mark Berry signaled for a hit-and-run, but Hatteberg froze on the pitch and Houston catcher Brad Ausmus threw out Hopper trying to steal second.
“My body just wouldn’t swing at it,” Hatteberg said. “Then Ausmus makes the throw and I thought, ‘There goes the rally.’ At least I made up for it.”
Hatteberg hit the next pitch into the Astros’ bullpen in right-center, his fifth home run of the season.
“Homers are not really my game,” he said. “I just wanted to get on base and drive the ball.”
The Astros have lost nine in a row for the first time since September 1996.
“Beautiful opportunity there to turn this thing around,” Lee said. “It’s tough, pretty tough out there right now. I definitely believe we’re way better than that.”
Belisle (5-4) allowed only two hits after Adam Everett’s RBI triple that was nearly an inside-the-park homer. Belisle, an Austin native, threw 102 pitches in 7 2-3 innings, his longest outing since a complete-game victory over Pittsburgh on April 28.
He beat the Astros for the first time with his mother and a few family friends cheering from the stands.
“I always feel good coming in here, just because it’s home and I get excited about playing here,” Belisle said.
Adam Dunn knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly for the Reds, who won for the third time in their last 12 road games. Cincinnati has won two in a row overall for the first time since a three-game winning streak in late April.
Jason Jennings gave up three hits in five shutout innings, striking out three in his first start for Houston since April 8. Jennings was on the disabled list with tendinitis in his right throwing elbow and was disappointed that he tired so quickly Tuesday night.
“I’m not a five-inning guy, I don’t want to be a five-inning guy,” Jennings said. “I’m going to work to get that arm strength back, try to go a little deeper in the game. Other than that, I was pretty pleased.”
Qualls (4-2) replaced Brad Lidge to start the seventh and took the loss. The Astros lost for the first time in five games that were tied after seven innings.
“That’s the way it’s going right now,” Jennings said. “When it rains, it pours. We had the situations come up, we just didn’t come through.”
Craig Biggio doubled with two outs in the second and scored the Astros’ only run.
Everett hit a sinking liner to center and the ball skidded past Hopper when he couldn’t make a diving catch. Hopper chased down the ball and hit Brandon Phillips with a relay throw as Everett rounded third. The throw home to Chad Moeller was high, but the catcher swiped the sliding Everett for the out at the plate.
“I just kind of ran out of gas, more than anything,” Everett said.
Jennings retired nine in a row after giving up three hits and walking two in the first two innings. He struck out Moeller and Belisle to end the fifth and was finished after 79 pitches.
Lidge, who hadn’t pitched since bruising his knee in San Francisco on May 21, replaced Miller and struck out Phillips. Dunn then flew out to deep center to score Hopper and tie it at 1.
Belisle retired 11 consecutive Astros, four on strikeouts, after Morgan Ensberg’s two-out single in the third. Lee ended the streak in the seventh with a one-out single to left, but Hunter Pence grounded into an inning-ending double play.
“This was a really big win for us,” manager Jerry Narron said. “I definitely feel this is the kind of win that can get us turned around.”
Hopper led off and started in center field one day after his collision with Ryan Freel. The Reds placed Freel on the 15-day disabled list before the game. He was scheduled to see a head and neck specialist on Wednesday. … Biggio’s 651st double was his 2,973rd career hit. Biggio ranks seventh on the career doubles list, six behind Nap Lajoie. … The Astros were held to two runs or fewer for the sixth time during their losing streak.
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