Reds' Bruce ends 10-RBI series with decisive double

MoiseKapenda Bower, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- Cincinnati Reds right fielder Jay Bruce gave his hometown Houston Astros fits all week, so it came as no shock when he struck one last, lethal blow.
Bruce crushed a two-run double in the 13th inning, and the Reds completed a three-game interleague series sweep with a 6-5 victory Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.
Bruce, a native of nearby Beaumont, Texas, capped his 10-RBI series by crushing a 2-0 fastball from Jorge De Leon (0-1) to center field. Billy Hamilton, who finished 3-for-4 with two walks and four stolen bases in his first career start, and Shin-Soo Choo (1-for-3, four walks) scored.
"Most of them, yeah, some affiliation," Bruce said of the throng of supporters cheering until the final out of the five-hour, 18-minute game, the second longest in Minute Maid Park history. "Beaumont is a great place, and it made me who I am. Everyone as a community really helped me get to where I am today. So it's always great coming back and seeing people. It's not too cool that we don't come back for a while."
Reds closer Aroldis Chapman earned his 37th save in support of Alfredo Simon (6-4), who worked three scoreless innings for the Reds (87-66). Chapman allowed a run on one hit and two walks but struck out Chris Carter with a 102 mph fastball with two runners on to end the game.
The Astros (51-101) suffered a home sweep for the eighth time this season. They stranded 16 runners, six over their final three at-bats. The Reds left 15 runners on base.
"Whenever you play this many innings, you can go back inning by inning and I'm pretty sure you can find different opportunities that you could come away with a big hit here or a big hit there and the outcome would probably be different," Astros manager Bo Porter said after Houston hit 3-for-21 with runners in scoring position.
The Reds squandered a golden opportunity to push ahead in the ninth when Hamilton and Choo walked, only for Brandon Phillips to be called out for interference for running inside the base line following his sacrifice bunt attempt. Hamilton and Choo were sent back to their bases.
Joey Votto followed with a harmless flyout to center field. Two batters later, Ryan Ludwick took three called strikes from Astros right-hander Josh Fields after jumping ahead 3-0 in the count, leaving the bases full.
The Astros pulled even with three consecutive doubles in the sixth inning, with Carter, Brett Wallace and Carlos Corporan erasing the Reds' 4-2 lead. Wallace and Corporan delivered their run-scoring hits off Reds left-hander Manny Parra after Carter reached against Logan Ondrusek.
"We tried to keep working hard and grind to the end," Corporan said. "We even scored one more at the end against Chapman, so it's something good to see."
It was fitting that Hamilton, renowned for his blazing speed, attempted to steal the headlines while making his first career start in center field.
Hamilton recorded his first career hit in the second, a two-out double into the left-field corner off right-hander Brad Peacock. He scored with ease when Choo followed with a single, upping the Reds' lead to 3-0.
Hamilton singled and stole second base in the fourth inning and pulled that same trick in the sixth, driving home Todd Frazier for a 4-2 lead when he scorched a ground ball that ricocheted off third base.
"(Reds manager Dusty Baker) gives me the green light, and it's my job to know when to go, and I think I picked some good times tonight," Hamilton said. "That was pretty fun.
"That shows them that they should have a little confidence in me, so that's the big thing about it. I went out there and showed them that I could play with the big league guys, so that was really a good thing."
In the fourth, the Astros nearly erased what had been a three-run deficit when Marc Krauss scored on a Corporan sacrifice fly two batters before Jonathan Villar came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs with the Astros trailing 3-2. However, Ondrusek emerged from the bullpen and struck out Villar to preserve the Cincinnati lead.
NOTES: Astros OF J.D. Martinez went 0-for-2 as a defensive replacement Tuesday, his first action since coming off the 15-day disabled list last Friday. Martinez, who had been out with a left wrist sprain since July 27, joined a crowded outfield that featured L.J. Hoes and Jimmy Paredes on the bench Wednesday. Despite that glut, Porter aims to get Martinez at-bats over the final 10 games of the season. ... The loss was De Leon's first career decision. ... The Reds used eight pitchers. The Astros used six.

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