Astros-Reds Preview

The Associated Press

The Houston Astros don't mind having to move up Wandy Rodriguez in the rotation, especially given how well he's pitched of late.

Rodriguez - nor the Astros - have been as good when visiting the Cincinnati Reds in recent seasons, though.

Houston looks to avoid a fifth loss in the last six games at Great American Ball Park when it begins a three-game series with Cincinnati on Friday night.

With Kyle Weiland experiencing shoulder soreness, manager Brad Mills decided to insert Rodriguez (1-2, 1.42 ERA) in his place. Rodriguez allowed three hits and struck out six in seven innings of a 12-0 win over Los Angeles on Sunday.

The left-hander gave up one run and five hits in seven innings in his previous start April 17, a 1-0 loss to Washington.

"Wandy continues to throw the ball well, and we need it, especially from where he is in the rotation," Mills told the team's official website. "He's a guy that's going to give us a quality start and a chance to pitch deep into games. He's thrown well, and the other guys have fallen in line."

Rodriguez, though, is 0-4 with a 4.44 ERA in his last five starts in Cincinnati, and the Astros (7-12) have lost 17 of the last 22 meetings there.

Houston will be trying to win consecutive games for the first time since winning three straight April 7-9 after beating Milwaukee 7-5 on Wednesday. The Astros have outhit and outscored opponents this season, though Mills said his team has had trouble getting timely hits.

Jose Altuve had a career-high four hits and J.D. Martinez went 3 for 4 with three RBIs to help Houston avoid a three-game sweep by the Brewers.

"Offensively, Altuve, what a day. The four hits, the big RBI single," Mills said. "Then you have Martinez come through with a big two-out single up the middle. Those are some big hits that kind of have been eluding us a little bit."

Jordan Schafer went 1 for 6 and has reached base safely in all 19 games, the most for an Astro to start a season since Ricky Gutierrez did it in the first 23 contests of 1998.

He'll look to extend that streak against Mike Leake (0-2, 6.50 ERA), who is coming off a rough outing.

Leake allowed five runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-1 loss to Chicago on Saturday, and opponents are hitting .310 against him.

"I just wasn't mixing up enough, and I was leaving hittable balls over the plate," Leake told the team's official website.

The right-hander is 2-2 with a 4.34 ERA in five starts versus Houston, giving up seven runs in 3 2-3 innings of a 10-4 loss May 3 in his most recent outing against the Astros.

The Reds (9-10) had won five of six before closer Sean Marshall gave up a three-run homer in the ninth inning of a 6-5 loss to San Francisco on Thursday.

Jay Bruce went 3 for 4 with a two-run homer, but he's 1 for 26 with 13 strikeouts off Rodriguez.

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