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Reds rip Astros

CINCINNATI — Jay Bruce and Ramon Hernandez each hit two home runs to propel the streaking Reds to a 12-2 win over the Houston Astros on Saturday.

Miguel Cairo and Drew Stubbs also homered as the Reds powered their way to their fourth consecutive win and fifth in six games, taking a two-game lead over St. Louis in the NL Central.

The Reds have hit at least one home run in 18 consecutive games, the third-longest streak in franchise history and the longest in the majors since Philadelphia also homered in 18 straight in September 2008. The 1986 Reds homered in 19 consecutive games, and the 1956 team set the franchise record with a 21-game stretch.

The six homers were the most for the Reds since they hit seven in an 11-2 win over Milwaukee on Sept. 19, 2008.

Aaron Harang benefited from the support. In a game started in 87-degree heat, Harang (4-5) matched his season high by lasting seven innings, giving up four hits and one run with two walks and four strikeouts.

Brian Moehler gave up three of the home runs while going fewer than three innings in his first start since last Sept. 30. The Reds roughed up Moehler (0-2) for 10 hits and eight runs. The former Red issued a walk and didn’t strike out anybody as the Astros extended their worst start in franchise history to 16-33.

The Astros capitalized on shortstop Orlando Cabrera’s error on what was almost a sure double-play ball to take a 1-0 lead in the second.

The lead lasted two pitches as Bruce tied the score in the bottom of the inning with a 381-foot leadoff homer into the right field seats on Moehler’s second pitch of the inning.

Cincinnati put the game away by scoring six runs while sending 10 batters to the plate in the third inning — the fifth time in the last three games that the Reds had batted around. Bruce hit his second homer of the game and 50th of his career, a three-run shot that gave him seven career multihomer games, and Hernandez added a solo shot, his first since last June 13 at Kansas City.

Cairo led off the fourth with his second homer of the season, both in the last four days, and Stubbs and Hernandez teamed up for back-to-back solo shots in the fifth.

The multihomer game was the eighth of Hernandez’s career.

Notes: The Reds placed C Ryan Hanigan on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured left thumb, reinstated IF Paul Janish from the bereavement list Saturday, purchased the contract of C Corky Miller from Triple-A Louisville, optioned IF Drew Sutton to the Bats and transferred OF Chris Dickerson from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL. … Before Saturday, Houston had used the same five starting pitchers over the first 48 games. … According to Elias Sports Bureau, Cincinnati’s 15 runs in RHP Sam LeCure’s debut were the most by the Reds in a starter’s big league debut since a 19-5 win over Pittsburgh behind Doc Newton on April 10, 1900.