Astros slam Reds

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Associated Press

HOUSTON — Brian Moehler wanted that complete game on Tuesday night, but he wasn’t upset about Houston manager Cecil Cooper’s decision to pull him with one out to go.

Carlos Lee hit his 12th career grand slam and Moehler handled Cincinnati’s hitters for 8 2-3 innings in the Astros’ 6-2 win over the Reds.

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Moehler (6-4) allowed seven hits and struck out three in 8 2-3 innings, his longest outing of the season. Jeff Keppinger doubled and scored in the ninth for Cincinnati and after Moehler gave up a single to Jay Bruce and a walk to Javier Valentin, Houston manager Cecil Cooper brought in Wesley Wright to relieve.

‘‘It was disappointing, no doubt about it, especially with a 6-1 lead,’’ said Moehler, who threw 100 pitches. ‘‘But I understand. I walked that guy and they’re one hitter away from loading up the bases and one pitch away from tying up the game. I’ve got no problem with the decision.

‘‘Right now, we need to win series. That’s all that matters.’’

The 23-year-old Wright struck out Joey Votto for the final out and his first career save. Wright’s quick outing allowed Cooper to rest regular closer Jose Valverde.

‘‘I thought that was a good matchup for Wesley,’’ Cooper said. ‘‘If I can stay away from ’Big Boy,’ you don’t want him to be the one to gut it out every night. Wesley’s been pitching well and I thought that was a good spot for him.’’

Miguel Tejada added a solo homer and Hunter Pence added an RBI triple for the Astros, who’ve won their last eight games against the Reds. The Astros have won three in a row and four of their last five.

Bronson Arroyo (9-8) gave up both home runs and lost for first time in six starts. He allowed eight hits and struck out three in 6 1-3 innings, losing his third straight decision to the Astros.

Arroyo had an RBI double for the Reds, who’ve lost five in a row and seven of their last nine games. Edinson Volquez (12-4) faces Wandy Rodriguez (6-3) in the series finale on Wednesday.

‘‘We’ve just got to come back and win this game tomorrow,’’ Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said.

Arroyo said he struggled to control his curveball and used his sinker instead. He struck out Lee on a sinker in the fourth, but left one up in the strike zone for Lee to hit out in the fifth.

‘‘It’s a big guessing game with him,’’ Arroyo said. ‘‘I went back to the sinker that I beat him with early in the game. I left it just a little too much on the plate, especially with him hitting the ball so well now.’’

Pence gave Houston a 1-0 lead in the second inning with a triple that scored Lee, who singled. Pence has 11 RBIs in his last 16 games. Arroyo tied it in the third with his first double of the season, following Votto’s double to right.

Tejada hit his 11th homer of the season in the Houston third. It was Tejada’s first home run since June 19.

In the Astros’ fifth, Kaz Matsui and Tejada singled and Arroyo hit Lance Berkman with a pitch to load the bases for Lee, who came in batting .370 since June 8. Lee hammered the second pitch off the left-field facade, his 24th homer of the season.

‘‘I hit that ball really good,’’ Lee said. ‘‘As soon as I hit it, I knew it was going out.’’

Baker brought in Gary Majewski to relieve Arroyo with one out in the seventh. Majewski got Tejada to ground into a double play.

The 36-year-old Moehler retired the Reds in order in four of the first eight innings. He allowed only three hits in the four innings after Arroyo knocked in Cincinnati’s first run. Moehler struck out Corey Patterson to end the eighth on his 90th pitch.

‘‘Moehler was spotting his fastball and he floods the zone with strikes,’’ Baker said. ‘‘He threw a good ballgame. A lot of people are throwing good ballgames against us.’’

Moehler bounced back from his worst start of the season, when he lasted only 2 1-3 innings and gave up six runs against Pittsburgh

‘‘It was location tonight,’’ he said. ‘‘I got some balls up, got away with a few and we made some great defensive plays. I located better, I used my changeup better.’’

Keppinger led off the ninth with a line-drive double to left and pitchers began warming up in the Houston bullpen for the first time. Keppinger advanced to third on Adam Dunn’s flyout to right and scored on Brandon Phillips’ groundout.

Cooper was booed when he came out to replace Moehler, who got a standing ovation as he walked slowly back to the dugout.

Notes: Lee had his first grand slam since June 28, 2007, when he hit one at Minute Maid Park off Colorado’s Brian Fuentes. … The Astros have won 13 of the last 16 meetings with Cincinnati. … Baker took OF Ken Griffey Jr. and 3B Edwin Encarnacion out of the Reds’ lineup for rest. Both had played all 11 games since the All-Star break.