Bruce home run lifts Reds to win over AstrosCincinnati Reds' Zack Cozart (2) congratulates teammate Joey Votto (19) at home plate after they scored on a Jay Bruce double hit off Houston Astros starting pitcher Lucas Harrell during the third inning of a baseball game on Saturday, April 28, 2012, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/David Kohl)
CINCINNATI (AP) Jay Bruce isn't analyzing his career-best hot streak. He's too busy enjoying it.
Bruce's fourth home run in four games lifted the Cincinnati Reds to a 6-5 comeback win over the Houston Astros on Sunday.
Bruce hit reliever Fernando Rodriguez's (0-3) first pitch 381 feet into the right field seats for his seventh homer of the season. Bruce has hit home runs in a career-high four consecutive games, one short of tying Cincinnati's club record.
''This is what you play for,'' said Bruce, who leads the Reds in homers. ''This is a hard game. There are a lot of times when it's not too much fun.''
Joey Votto drove in four runs with a home run and a double to help the Reds capture their third consecutive series and finish the month of April with a .500 record (11-11) after losing eight of their first 12.
''The way we started was really ugly,'' Votto said. ''It was a shock to everybody. It was humbling, but I think it was a good thing, too. I'm a firm believer in that, while you don't want to start bad, it doesn't hurt. It makes you concentrate on fundamentals. I think a losing record early in the year can be a good thing.''
Logan Ondrusek (1-0) pitched a perfect eighth to get the win. Sean Marshall earned his fifth save in six tries, capping what manager Dusty Baker described as a ''great job'' by a bullpen that went into the game ranked third in the league in earned-run average.
''I'm going to enjoy this one and the way we won it,'' Baker said. ''We can enjoy the off day tomorrow, too.''
Houston starter Jordan Lyles was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City before the game. He lasted six innings, allowing four hits and three runs with three walks and four strikeouts. He was optioned back to Triple-A after the game to make room on the roster for infielder Marwin Gonzalez, who was reinstated from paternity leave, but manager Brad Mills hoped he left with a good feeling.
''He threw the ball well,'' Mills said. ''He threw the ball so well that we wanted to get him out of there with a lead.''
The 10 hits allowed by Reds starter Mat Latos matched the career high he set last June 21 at Boston while with San Diego. Latos allowed no walks and struck out four while giving up five runs in 6 1-3 innings.
''They picked me up when I was feeling a little under the weather,'' Latos said. ''I just tried to grind through it.''
Houston's Jordan Schafer singled in the second to extend to his streak of consecutive games reaching base at least once to open the season to 22, the longest by an Astro since Ricky Gutierrez put together a 23-game streak in 1998. The club record is Denis Menke's 25 in 1969.
Houston jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Jose Altuve's double and Jed Lowrie's single with one out in the first inning. The Astros made it 2-0 in the second on Chris Johnson's one-out double, Jason Castro's single and Lyles's suicide-squeeze sacrifice bunt.
Lyles didn't allow a hit in his first run through the Reds lineup, but Zack Cozart reached him for a double to left with one out in the fourth and Joey Votto slammed the next pitch 438 feet over the center field fence for his second home run of the season and first since April 7 during an 8-3 loss to Miami.
The Astros regained their two-run lead in the fifth on Altuve's two-out single and Lowrie's 378-foot home run into the right field seats, his second of the season and the road trip.
The Reds cut the deficit to 4-3 on Ryan Hanigan's infield single, Latos's sacrifice and Cozart's two-out double in the fifth, but Matt Downs countered with a 362-foot, opposite-field liner into the right field seats with one out in the sixth, his first home runs since last Sept. 26 against St. Louis.
The Reds tied the game in the seventh singles by Hanigan and Chris Heisey as a pinch-hitter and Votto's two-out double up the right-field line.
''I was only part of this comeback,'' Bruce pointed out. ''We were never out of it.''
Notes: Infielder Brian Bixler was optioned to Oklahoma City to make room on the roster for Lyles. Bixler had just been recalled from the Redhawks on Friday. He's batted .143 in six games over two stints this season with the Astros. ... Votto's homer was his 117th as a first baseman, tying Sean Casey for fourth in career homers by Cincinnati first baseman. Lee May is third with 139, behind Tony Perez's 141 and Ted Kluszewski's 249. ... Hanigan extended his hitting streak to eight games, matching the career high he set in 2009. ... Schafer was ejected by second-base umpire Marvin Hudson after arguing about being caught stealing to end the second inning. Brian Bogusevic replaced Schafer in the lineup.