Reds can’t cool Astros
CINCINNATI (AP) — A chilly night knocked Mike Leake and the Reds out of their comfort zone. The Astros took fully advantage.
Jose Altuve drove in two runs with a triple and a double, leading Wandy Rodriguez and Houston past Cincinnati 6-4 in the opener of a three-game series Friday night.
Jed Lowrie also had two hits for the Astros, who have won consecutive games for the first time since a three-game winning streak April 7-9. Houston hit .316 during three games in Milwaukee this week and had 14 hits in a 7-5 win in the series finale Wednesday.
Leake (0-3), a San Diego native and Cincinnati’s No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft out of Arizona State, lasted only 3 2-3 innings, matching the shortest starts of his career. He gave up seven hits and six runs, three earned, with one strikeout. His ERA climbed to 6.65.
“I gave them a couple of good pitches to hit,” Leake said. “They were swinging early. I wasn’t making good pitches.”
Manager Dusty Baker agreed with the suggestion that cool temperatures — 61 at gametime — don’t agreed with Leake.
“He’s definitely a warm-weather guy,” Baker said. “I’ve got a warm-weather team, but (opponents) play in the same weather we do. You’ve got to overcome the elements.”
Rodriguez (2-2) gave up two runs and six hits in six innings. He walked two and struck out six. The left-hander allowed only one earned run over 14 innings in his previous two starts.
Astros first baseman Carlos Lee left in the first inning because of a sprained left ankle.
Jay Bruce’s fifth home run of the season and second in two days and Devin Mesoraco’s first of the year, on consecutive pitches from Fernando Abad with one out in the ninth, prompted Houston to bring in closer Brett Myers. He got two outs for his fourth save.
The Astros took a 2-0 lead in the third. Jason Castro led off with a bloop single and Altuve hit a two-out triple to right as Bruce tried to make a diving catch on the play. J.D. Martinez added an RBI single.
Houston chased Leake with a four-run fourth that included RBI doubles by Chris Johnson and Altuve sandwiched around Jordan Schafer’s run-scoring single. Three of the runs were unearned due to Gold Glove second baseman Brandon Phillips’ error on Brian Bogusevic’s sharp grounder.
Schafer has reached base at least once in every one of Houston’s 20 games, the longest streak to start a season by an Astros player since Ricky Gutierrez’s 23-game stretch in 1998.
Baker said Leake might be trying too hard.
“I know it’s killing him,” Baker said. “He’s a competitor, big-time. We’ll get it figured out — maybe by trying less. When you try too hard, your ball flattens out.”
Leake, 20-13 in his career going into the season, doesn’t think less effort is the answer.
“I’m just trying to figure out how to throw strikes and what not to give them to hit,” he said.
The Reds broke up Rodriguez’s shutout bid in the fifth on Bruce’s bloop single — his second hit in 28 career at-bats against Rodriguez — and Todd Frazier’s pinch-hit triple to right-center.
They added another run in the sixth on Drew Stubbs’ leadoff single and Joey Votto’s double to left-center on the 13th pitch of the at-bat.
NOTES: Houston placed RHP Kyle Weiland on the 15-day disabled list — retroactive to April 25 — with a shoulder injury, and infielder Marwin Gonzalez was placed on paternity leave to be with his wife as she prepares to give birth. INF Brian Bixler and Abad were recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City. … Lee was hurt while trying to field Johnson’s low throw from third on Zack Cozart’s grounder. … Votto has reached base at least once in 19 of Cincinnati’s 20 games.