The Reds won the game and the series against the Houston Astros this afternoon by a score of 3-6.
Pitching stud Aaron Harang started with the pitching and worked seven and two-thirds innings, allowing three runs (earned) on five hits and two walks to get the win.
Pitching--well, I don't want to say “dud,” but…--Kent Mercker finished out the eighth, but not before allowing an inherited runner to score on two hits. I was a little afraid of what might happen if Harang boiled over sitting in the dugout watching Mercker's performance. I can see how that fella can be pretty intimidating. But when Ryan Freel caught the final out of the inning and Harang cracked a smile, I released the breath I didn't realize I'd been holding, and all was well.
As is becoming commonplace, David Weathers worked a hitless ninth to get the save.
The Houston Astros have been out-homering the Reds this series. They first got on the board in the second inning when Jason Lane sent one flying out over left field while Preston Wilson stood on base. Score: 2-0.
The Reds didn't make an appearance on the scoreboard until the fourth inning. After getting Rich Aurilia out, Andy Pettitte walked Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns to set up Edwin Encarnación for the RBI double. Brandon Phillips used his superpowers to coax a bad throw to first from Pettitte to score Kearns and Encarnación while keeping himself safe on first.
Phillips advanced to second on a single by Harang, stole third base, and then scored when ball four to Freel got away from the catcher. Let me tell you, this play confused the heck out of me when it happened, because I couldn't figure out why Freel was running to first when he hadn't swung at the pitch. It took me a moment to realize that, though he had walked, he was running to get out of the way of Phillips. Score: 4-2.
Aurilia hit the Reds' first home run of the series (and only the second of the last two series) in the bottom of the fifth. Dunn then doubled, moved to third on Kearns' single, and came home two batters later when Phillips grounded into a fielder's choice. Score: 6-2.
The top of the sixth featured a truly remarkable catch by Jason LaRue. Willy Taveras popped up a bunt, oh probably six feet into the air and maybe four feet in front of the plate. LaRue managed to lunge forward and catch the ball right at the ground, then had the presence of mind to get up and double Craig Biggio off second base.
Felipe Lopez committed an error on the very next play that required Harang to face a couple more batters in the inning than he otherwise would have. The giving away of outs had been a hallmark of the Reds 2005 team that I wouldn't mind never seeing again. Nevertheless, the score remained 6-2.
Harang allowed a single to Chris Burke to lead off the eighth before getting Biggio and Taveras out. Still, Narron pulled Harang in favor of Mercker to turn around Lance Berkman. Berkman promptly singled to center to bring in Burke. Mercker then gave up a double to Ryan Ensberg before finally inducing the fly ball to center from Mike Lamb. Final score: 6-3.
The win brings the Reds record to 17-7 and gives them a one-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLC standings. The Reds go for the series sweep tomorrow at 1:15 p.m. Elizardo “The Lizard” Ramirez faces off against Taylor “Sweetie Face” Buchholz.