By BOB STRICKLEY
PDT Sports Editor
CINCINNATI — The Portsmouth West Men’s Ensemble thrilled the crowd with their pregame rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner and the Cincinnati Reds matched their performance as they defeated the Houston Astros 6-5 at Sunday’s Portsmouth Day.
Joey Votto’s double to right field drove in Chris Heisey and Drew Stubbs making it 5-5 in the bottom of the seventh and a solo home run by Jay Bruce the following inning was the deciding hit of the game.
“This is what you play for,” Bruce said. “This is a hard game. There are a lot of times when it’s not too much fun.”
Coming off an April 24, 9-2 win over San Fransisco that provided a glimpse as to why the Reds acquired him from the Padres, Mat Latos regressed to the pitcher Cincinnati had seen in his first three starts allowing five runs on a career-high 10 hits over 6 and 1/3 innings.
The right-hander admitted he was not feeling sharp entering the contest.
“They picked me up when I was feeling a little under the weather and I just tried to grind through it,” Latos said.
Latos allowed a run in each of the first two innings, gave up two on a Jed Lowrie homer in the fifth and a fifth run in the top of the sixth when Matt Downs took him deep.
But Votto’s seventh-inning, two-out double off Houston reliever Matt Carpenter drove in two runs that were charged to Wilton Lopez and took Latos off the hook for the loss.
Logan Ondrusek (1-0) worked a routine top of the eighth making Bruce’s first-pitch home run in the eighth off Fernando Rodriguez (0-3) the go ahead run. The homer marked the fourth game in a row the Cincinnati right fielder has homered, a career high.
Bruce was quick to credit his teammates for the come-from-behind win.
“I was only part of this comeback,” he said. “We were never out of it.”
Brandon Phillips’ diving stop on a liner from Brian Bogusevic, who replaced Jordan Schafer after he was ejected in the second, helped Sean Marshall earn his fifth save in a flawless ninth.
The Reds are not off to the start they initially envisioned as they finished the month of April with a .500 record, but Sunday’s win marked their third-straight series victory.
“I’m going to enjoy this one and the way we won it,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We can enjoy the off day tomorrow, too.”
Houston’s Saturday call-up, Jordan Lyles, went six innings allowing three runs with two of them coming off a fourth-inning home run from Votto. It was his 117th as a Reds first baseman, tying him at fourth on the club’s all-time list with Sean Casey in that category.
Votto’s long ball knotted it following Jed Lowrie’s single that drove in Jose Altuve, who went 3-for-5 on the day, in Astro’s first inning and Lyle’s sacrifice bunt in the second drove in Chris Johnson.
But the Astros regained the lead on a two-run blast from Lowrie after Altuve reached on a single in the fifth.
The score narrowed to 4-3 after a Ryan Hanigan single, Latos sacrifice and a Zach Cozart RBI double to left in the bottom of the fifth.
Matt Downs hit a solo homer off Latos in the top of the sixth to make it 5-3 and the Reds went quietly in the bottom half of the inning.
Houston threatened again in the top of the seventh. After Lyles flew out and Bogusevic singled, Jose Arredondo replaced Latos and allowed a single to Altuve, retired Lowrie, walked J.D. Martinez to load the bases, and coaxed Travis Buck into fly out to end the threat.
The Reds’ tying seventh inning started with a Hanigan single then a pinch-hit single from Heisey. Mesoraco was brought in to run for Hanigan at second but sent to the dugout after a bunt attempt by Drew Stubbs ended in a force out.
Cozart struck out bringing Votto to the plate with two outs and two on and he did not disappoint. Neither did Bruce when he drove the first pitch from Rodriguez 381 feet into the right field seats.
Cincinnati improved to 11-11. They host the Chicago Cubs for a three-game series starting Tuesday.
Houston dropped to 8-14 and is also off Monday. The New York Mets will visit the Astros for a two-game series starting Tuesday.
Notes: Votto snapped a 19-game homerless streak with his fourth-inning bomb. It’s the second longest streak of his career. Ryan Hanigan extended his hitting streak to eight games, which ties his career high. Chris Heisey’s pinch-hit single in the seventh inning makes him 3-for-4 this season as a pinch hitter and gives him a lifetime pinch-hitting average of .361. Zach Cozart recorded his first steal of the season off Lyles in the bottom of the first.
Bob Strickley may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 203, or email@example.com.
Note: Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.
|Schafer cf||2||0||1||0||Stubbs cf||5||1||0||0|
|Bogusevic cf||3||0||1||0||Cozart ss||4||1||2||1|
|Altuve 2b||5||2||3||0||Votto 1b||3||1||2||4|
|Lowrie ss||4||1||2||3||Phillips 2b||4||0||0||0|
|J.D.Martinez lf||3||0||0||0||Bruce rf||3||1||1||1|
|T.Buck rf||4||0||0||0||Ludwick lf||4||0||0||0|
|M.Downs 1b||4||1||1||1||Frazier 3b||3||0||0||0|
|C.Johnson 3b||4||1||2||0||Marshall p||0||0||0||0|
|J.Castro c||4||0||1||0||Hanigan c||3||1||2||0|
|Lyles p||2||0||0||1||Mesoraco pr-c||1||0||1||0|
|W.Lopez p||0||0||0||0||Latos p||1||0||0||0|
|Davi.Carpenter p||0||0||0||0||Arredondo p||0||0||0||0|
|Fe.Rodriguez p||0||0||0||0||Heisey ph||1||1||1||0|
|Maxwell ph||1||0||0||0||Ondrusek p||0||0||0||0|
LOB_Houston 6, Cincinnati 8. 2B_Altuve (7), C.Johnson (6), Cozart 2 (7), Votto (10). HR_Lowrie (2), M.Downs (1), Votto (2), Bruce (7). SB_Cozart (1), Bruce (3). CS_Schafer (3). S_Lyles, Latos.