Reds drop sixth straight, lose to Astros 6-3

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 9, 2003

HOUSTON (AP) - Tim Redding didn't think about his four-game losing streak, the longest of his career.

''I was trying to throw the ball and not worry about what would happen if the ball was hit,'' he said. ''I had been in a rut where I was worrying too much about the ball being hit.''

Redding won for the first time in a month, and Morgan Ensberg hit a two-run homer as the Houston Astros beat Cincinnati 6-3 Tuesday night, the Reds' sixth straight loss.

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Redding (5-8) allowed two runs and four hits in 5 2-3 innings to win for the first time since defeating Tampa Bay 2-1 June 8. Billy Wagner pitched the final 1 1-3 innings for his 23rd save.

''I just tried to clear my head and throw the ball,'' Redding said. ''I've had some good games, but I've been getting tough breaks and not too many runs to work with, and getting no decisions or tough-luck losses.

''I've been getting down on myself and thinking that I had to go out and pitch a perfect game and win 1-0. Today I wiped the slate clean.''

Jimmy Haynes (1-9), who lost his fourth straight decision, gave up six runs, six hits and five walks in 5 2-3 innings. He struck out six.

''I felt good. I really only made two mistakes, one to Ensberg and one to Lance Berkman,'' Haynes said. ''The sixth-inning error hurt me a little. I just have to keep going out there, and hope it turns around quickly.''

Cincinnati, which allowed three more unearned runs, is on its longest skid since losing eight straight from June 16-24 last year. The Reds have just 11 hits in the first two games of the series.

''You are going to go through periods like this. We are in a little rut,'' Cincinnati's Aaron Boone said. ''I don't think its a big deal but, unfortunately, we are not scoring a bunch of runs right now. But I think we will come out of it. We stink right now. Pick an area, offense, defense and pitching.''

Ken Griffey Jr. agreed with Boone.

''It is just one of those things that every team goes through,'' he said. ''The Astros went though it when they were swept in Pittsburgh. It's just critical when you are in your division. The good thing is we have a couple of more games with these guys and we can turn it around.''

With the score tied in the fifth, Houston went ahead when Jeff Bagwell walked and came around on Lance Berkman's double. Bagwell walked three times.

Houston added three runs in the sixth on an RBI double by pinch-hitter Orlando Merced, and run-scoring singles by Craig Biggio and Geoff Blum.

All the scoring came after a two-out error by shortstop Barry Larkin on Adam Everett's grounder. Catcher Kelly Stinnett also had an error in the game, increasing the Reds' major league-leading total to 85.

Adam Dunn's 25th homer put Cincinnati ahead in the second, but Ensberg hit a two-run homer in the bottom half, his team-high 17th. He is batting .324 (33-for-102) in his last 34 games with 12 homers and 25 RBIs.

Larkin hit an RBI single in the fifth.

Griffey homered in the eighth off Pete Munro, his ninth this season.