Harang, Hannigan lift Reds over Astros, 6-2The Associated Press
HOUSTON — During his early season struggles, Aaron Harang didn’t think he was being aggressive enough.
On Tuesday his conscious effort to change that helped the Cincinnati starter to his first win of the season.
Harang pitched six solid innings and Ryan Hanigan drove in a career-high-tying three runs to give the Reds a 6-2 win over the Astros. The win breaks a five-game road skid for the Reds and halts Houston’s winning streak at three.
“We talked about it and (pitching coach) Bryan (Price) seemed to think too it was maybe being a little more passive lately instead of just being old me, being aggressive,” he said. “We kind of figured that out he said: ’Go out and be the old you and challenge guys and see what happens.”’
Harang (1-3) allowed a season-low two runs. Houston scored in the first inning, before he settled down after his previous two starts where he allowed a combined 14 earned runs.
“I just had to establish early that I was going to throw strikes and throw them when I needed to,” he said. “I was able to get ahead and get that inside corners working for me.”
Houston’s Michael Bourn was impressed with Harang.
“He had good stuff tonight,” Bourn said. “He placed the ball really well. He kept us off balance with the slider and had good placement with the fastball.”
The Reds were leading 2-1 before their three-run sixth inning made it 5-1 and they held on for the win.
Hanigan, who went 2 for 3, drove in both runs in the second inning and added an RBI in the sixth. With 10 RBIs this season, Hanigan is just one shy of his total from last season.
“He made some changes and he works hard,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “Last year he had trouble driving in runs but this year he’s welcoming that opportunity and also the challenge. “
Harang allowed eight hits with a walk and six strikeouts in six innings. Daniel Ray Herrera pitched a perfect seventh before Nick Masset did the same in the eighth and Francisco Cordero finished it off with a scoreless ninth.
Houston had runners at first and third with two outs in the third inning before Harang escaped any trouble by striking out Lance Berkman.
Berkman got Houston’s first extra-base hit in the sixth inning with a ground-rule double that hit just inside the line before bouncing into the stands. A single by Geoff Blum came before Berkman scored on a sacrifice fly that got Houston within 5-2.
Brandon Phillips helped Harang get out of that inning with a nifty leaping catch on a ball hit by Tommy Manzella.
Cincinnati hit three straight singles with no outs in the sixth inning. The third one, by Jonny Gomes, knocked home Jay Bruce and pushed Cincinnati’s lead to 3-1 and chased Astros starter Bud Norris (1-2).
“I really attacked early, but then I got lazy,” Norris said. “Whatever it was — mentally or mechanically — you have to go out there and compete. Some nights you are going to have it all working and some nights you aren’t.”
Hanigan made it four singles in a row with his run-scoring hit off Jeff Fulchino. Drew Stubbs made it 5-1 when Gomes scored on his sacrifice fly.
Harang singled in the fifth inning before Stubbs walked. Norris retired the next three batters to get out of that jam.
Norris gave up six hits and five runs with four walks while striking out six in five innings.
Norris hit Scott Rolen with a pitch to start the second inning before walking Bruce. A single by Hanigan drove in Rolen and Bruce to give Cincinnati a 2-1 lead.
Bourn got hit by a pitch in the first inning before stealing second and reaching third when catcher Hanigan overthrew second base. He made it 1-0 when he scored on a groundout by Jeff Keppinger.
The Reds added a run in the eighth inning when Orlando Cabrera scored on a balk by Sammy Gervacio.
NOTES: Astros ace Roy Oswalt rejoined the team on Tuesday after spending several days in Mississippi helping his parents in the aftermath of a tornado that destroyed their home. … Tuesday was the seventh game of a nine-game homestand for Houston, which is playing 22 of its first 31 games at home.