|Cincinnati 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)|
Cueto shuts down Astros to lead Reds to 6-0 win
Jay Bruce homered for the third consecutive game, drove in four runs and turned in one of Cincinnati's four sterling defensive plays to back Johnny Cueto's solid effort as the Reds beat the Houston Astros 6-0 on Friday.
Lucas Harrell (1-2) allowed nine hits and six runs -- five earned -- with one walk and one strikeout in six innings for the Astros.
Houston manager Brad Mills liked what he saw from Harrell despite the loss.
"I thought Luke had pretty good stuff," Mills said.
The Reds wasted no time gaining an edge on Harrell.
Joey Votto doubled into the left-field corner with two outs in the first inning and Brandon Phillips followed with a line-drive triple to center that fooled Jordan Schafer and glanced off his glove, rolling to the wall. After Bruce walked, Scott Rolen grounded an RBI single through the hole into right field.
"Phillips hit the ball hard but the other hits just found some holes," Mills said.
Rolen, who hit the ball hard three times Friday but went 0 for 4, was jammed up by Harrell on the RBI single.
"I felt I made some pretty good pitches," Harrell said. "I felt I got a good fastball in on Rolen but he stayed with it and hit it just out of Jose's (Altuve) reach."
Cincinnati doubled the lead in the third. Zack Cozart led off with a single to center before second baseman Altuve couldn't handle Votto's line drive and was charged with an error. Both runners scored on Bruce's double into the left-field corner.
"Bruce hit the ball right down the line," Harrel said of the double that was fair by a couple inches.
Brandon Phillips added two hits for the Reds, who improved to 3-2 on a nine-game homestand.
Cueto (3-0) wasn't dominant, allowing five hits and a walk while hitting a batter and striking out three over seven innings, but he made enough quality pitches to keep in check an Astros team that hit .301 over the first four games of their six-game road trip.
The Reds turned two double plays to back Cueto. Cozart started one after the first two Astros reached in the fourth. Bruce picked off a line drive by Altuve and doubled Jordan Schafer off first with a quick, strong throw.
Later, Cozart made a diving stop on a hard hit ball by J.D Martinez and threw him out from a seated position.
"I thought that was a hit," Martinez said. "If that's not a number one play, I don't know what is. I saw him stretch out and said, `Are you kidding me?' I ran hard. It's baseball. I can look back on how many line drives I hit right at someone but I can also remember hits off the pitcher's glove. You hope it evens out in the end."
Logan Ondrusek pitched a perfect eighth and Aroldis Chapman allowed two walks and a hit to load the bases in the ninth before striking out Chris Snyder to complete Cincinnati's second shutout of the season and Houston's second shutout loss.
Shafer singled in the fifth to extend his streak to 21 consecutive games reaching base to start the season, the longest by an Astros player since Ricky Gutierrez had a 23-game streak in 1998. The club record is 25 by Denis Menke in 1969.
Bruce pushed the lead to 6-0 in the fifth, following Phillips' one-out single with his third home run in three games and sixth of the season, a 417-foot shot into the right-field seats on Harrell's first pitch. He fell one RBI short of matching his career high.
NOTES: Houston expects to recall RHP Jordan Lyles from Triple-A Oklahoma City in time to start Sunday's series finale. Lyles is 4-0 for the RedHawks. ... Mills doesn't expect 1B Carlos Lee to be available until at least Monday. Lee sprained his left ankle Friday. ... Reds C Ryan Hanigan singled to lead off the fourth, extending his hitting streak to seven games (9 for 26, .346), the longest of the season among the Reds and one short of matching the longest of his career. He hit in eight consecutive games in 2009.