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News » Astros-Reds Preview 2009-04-29


Astros-Reds Preview 2009-04-29


Astros-Reds Preview 2009-04-29
If the Houston Astros could play their remaining schedule in Cincinnati, they wouldn't stay last in the NL Central for too long.

Unfortunately for the Astros, they must leave following Wednesday night's series finale. A 12th straight win at Cincinnati and a fourth consecutive overall victory would make a nice souvenir on their eight-game road trip.

However, they first have to deal with Reds starter Edinson Volquez, who has never lost to Houston.

Losers in three of four entering the three-game set, the Astros (9-12) have bounced back by outscoring Cincinnati 12-4 in the first two contests, including Tuesday night's 8-3 win.

"Every time we play here, we play great," said starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, who allowed one run over seven innings Tuesday.

Kaz Matsui and Carlos Lee each drove in two runs while Ivan Rodriguez hit his first career homer against the Reds and doubled. With his solo shot in the second inning, Rodriguez moved within three of 300 career homers and would become the seventh catcher in major league history to reach that mark.

With 10 hits Tuesday, the Astros have batted .311 with 17 home runs during their 11-game win streak at the Great American Ball Park, which began Sept. 25, 2007.

"They like to come in here and hit," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "They were commenting around the batting cage about how they feel comfortable and confident playing here."

Baker may finally have the answer for the Astros in Volquez (2-2, 6.20 ERA). The 25-year-old has won all three career starts over Houston and allowed one earned run in each, including a 4-2 win April 19.

However, the All-Star right-hander has only faced the Astros on the road, and hasn't gotten off to a strong start following a stellar 2008 that produced a 17-6 record, 3.21 ERA and 206 strikeouts. Volquez has allowed at least three earned runs in three of his four starts and issued a career-high seven walks - five in one inning - in a 4-3 loss Friday night to Atlanta.

The Reds (10-10) have provided inconsistent offense, scoring three runs or fewer 12 times and in four of five meetings with Houston. They are also among the league's worst defensive teams with 18 errors - two fewer than only Washington and St. Louis - and committed three Tuesday.

Two came on one play in the first as first baseman Joey Votto misplayed a grounder and threw past starter Aaron Harang covering the bag, allowing the first run to score.

"We didn't help out (Harang) very much," Baker told the team's official Web site. "That hurt. (Votto) bobbled it, and I guess Aaron got to the bag quicker than he anticipated."

While dropping four of its last five - all at home, Cincinnati also lost third baseman Edwin Encarnacion to the 15-day disabled list after tests found a chipped bone in his right wrist. Left fielder Chris Dickerson, who bumped heads with Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada on Monday, was sidelined after undergoing tests to see if he has a concussion.

The Astros, meanwhile, won't have closer Jose Valverde available until May 12 after he was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a strained right calf.

Houston will look for a repeat effort from Felipe Paulino (0-1, 3.00) in his second start this season against the Reds. The right-hander pitched six scoreless innings opposite Volquez on April 19, but allowed four runs and 10 hits to Milwaukee on Friday night.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 29, 2009

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