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Cincinnati at Houston

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Cincinnati000000000040
Houston «00004024x10150

Astros 10, Reds 0

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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HOUSTON -- Andy Pettitte thinks he is pitching better than ever before.

Pettitte allowed four hits in seven innings, striking out four and walking only one to lead the Houston Astros over the Cincinnati Reds 10-0 on Wednesday night.

Pettitte (13-9) improved to 10-2 in 14 starts since June 20. The left-hander lowered his ERA to 2.50, tied with Washington's John Patterson for third best in the National League.

"I feel I'm a better pitcher right now than ever before," Pettitte said. "I'm using my changeup more and that's helping and I'm just getting smarter and not worrying much about velocity."

Pettitte had elbow surgery that ended his 2004 season last Aug. 24 and caused him to get off to a 3-7 start this year. But he now thinks the ailing elbow might have contributed to his improved performance.

"There's no doubt," Pettitte said. "The elbow hasn't allowed me to over-pitch. It's helped me be more consistent. If I was healthy, I'd probably get stupid and rare back and just try to throw hard sometimes."

Brandon Claussen matched Pettitte for four innings before the Astros broke open the game with a four-run fifth.

"We put together some big hits tonight," manager Phil Garner said. "Lost in all that was the fact Andy pitched seven shutout innings. He has just been phenomenal for us.

"He has pitched well for most of the season. It seems like he's been pretty good for a couple of months."

Astros catcher Brad Ausmus drove in four runs and helped the fifth-inning outburst. He also praised Pettitte's strong showing.

"He did a great job," Ausmus said. "I don't think he was feeling 100 percent, but he's got the mental wherewithal to overcome any kind of tenderness or soreness."

The Reds couldn't tell if Pettitte was hurting.

"He's one of the best pitchers in the game," Jason LaRue said. "Every time he's out there, he doesn't make too many mistakes and tonight he didn't make too many mistakes. Sometimes you just have to tip your cap when you go up against some pitchers."

Adam Dunn agreed.

"He was back to his old self," Dunn said. "The first time we faced him, he didn't have his velocity back to where it was tonight. When he is spotting his pitches like he was tonight, he's one of the best.

"He has his confidence back and it showed tonight."

Jason Lane hit a two-run homer for the Astros, who remained a half-game behind Philadelphia in the NL wild-card race.

Claussen (9-9) lost for the first time since July 23 against Milwaukee. He had gone 5-0 in six starts since, the longest win streak by a Reds pitcher this season.

Claussen allowed only two hits in the first four innings before the Astros bunched five consecutive hits to score four runs in the fifth.

"I was aggressive in the strike zone," Claussen said. "They may have changed their approach in the fifth. They were jumping on the first pitch.

"The home run ball to Jason Lane was four inches off of the ground. It was a good pitch but he was able to put the bat on the ball, get it elevated and get it out. I might have been just a hair up in that inning but I was still aggressive in the strike zone."

Lance Berkman led off with a double and Lane hit his 20th home run for a 2-0 lead. Chris Burke and Adam Everett each singled and Ausmus drove them home with a double to right-center.

Ausmus tried to stretch the hit to a triple and was called out on a close play at third, which Garner argued.

Claussen lasted 5 2/3 innings and allowed four runs on eight hits. He walked none and struck out three.

Back-to-back RBI singles by Willy Taveras and Craig Biggio off Jason Standridge made it 6-0 in the seventh.

Ausmus had a two-run single and Jose Vizcaino hit a two-run homer in the eighth off Randy Keisler.

Notes

Berkman's fifth-inning double gave him 11 for the month, tying him with Jose Cruz (1985) for the most by an Astros player in August. ... Cincinnati is 1-7 at Houston this season. ... Jeff Bagwell began a rehab stint at Double-A Corpus Christi on Wednesday. ... Sean Casey's first-inning single gave him an 11-game hitting streak. ... Felipe Lopez stretched his four-game hitting slump to 1-for-17. ... Ausmus played second base in the ninth inning for the second time in his career. The last time he did it was Oct. 1, 2000, while he was with Detroit. He made his first career appearance at shortstop against Pittsburgh on Aug. 14. ... LF Burke tied a career high with three hits.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Players of the Game
Houston

B. Ausmus
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 4
Houston

A. Pettitte
IP 7.0
H 4
ER 0
BB 1
K 5
 
Cincinnati Reds
Felipe Lopez, SS4000012 .282
Rich Aurilia, 2B-3B4000020 .269
Ken Griffey Jr., CF3000000 .300
   a- Aaron Holbert, PH1000010 .250
Austin Kearns, RF2020200 .248
Sean Casey, 1B4010023 .319
Adam Dunn, LF4000003 .248
Jason LaRue, C3010012 .263
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B3000013 .233
    Matt Belisle, P0000000 .143
    Randy Keisler, P0000000 .375
Brandon Claussen, P1000000 .048
    Jason Standridge, P0000000 .000
    Ray Olmedo, 2B0000000 .234
Totals290402813 
a-struck out for Griffey in the 9th
Batting
SH - Brandon Claussen (5)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Ken Griffey Jr. 1
DP - Aurilia-Casey, Claussen-F. Lopez-Casey
Cincinnati Reds
Brandon Claussen (L,9-9) 5.2844031 4.38
Jason Standridge 1422000 5.06
Matt Belisle 0.1000000 3.87
Randy Keisler 1344111 7.56
Pitches-Strikes - Brandon Claussen 96-65, Jason Standridge 21-13, Matt Belisle 6-3, Randy Keisler 32-16
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brandon Claussen 6-5, Jason Standridge 2-1, Randy Keisler 1-1
Batters Faced - Brandon Claussen 22, Jason Standridge 7, Matt Belisle 1, Randy Keisler 7
Houston Astros
Willy Taveras, CF5021000 .298
    Mike Gallo, P0000000 .000
Craig Biggio, 2B4011011 .270
    Chad Qualls, P0000000 .000
    Raul Chavez, C0000000 .186
Morgan Ensberg, 3B4010003 .282
    Eric Bruntlett, 3B0000000 .190
Lance Berkman, 1B3110101 .291
    Charles Gipson, PR-CF0100000 .000
Jason Lane, RF4112002 .261
Chris Burke, LF4330000 .245
Adam Everett, SS3120012 .252
Brad Ausmus, C-2B4124002 .257
Andy Pettitte, P2000020 .082
   a- Jose Vizcaino, PH-2B^1B2222000 .262
Totals351015101411 
a-singled for Pettitte in the 7th
Batting
2B - Lance Berkman (30, Claussen), Chris Burke (17, Keisler), Brad Ausmus (14, Claussen)
HR - Jason Lane (20, Claussen), Jose Vizcaino (1, Keisler)
SH - Adam Everett (6)
RBI - Willy Taveras (26), Craig Biggio (52), Jason Lane 2 (63), Brad Ausmus 4 (37), Jose Vizcaino 2 (16)
2-OUT RBI - Willy Taveras (13), Craig Biggio (21), Brad Ausmus 2 (14), Jose Vizcaino 2 (7)
SB - Chris Burke (11, 2nd base off Claussen/LaRue)
Team LOB - 3
Fielding
DP - Everett-Berkman
Houston Astros
Andy Pettitte (W,13-9) 7400150 2.50
Chad Qualls 1000010 3.18
Mike Gallo 1000120 2.57
HBP - Olmedo (by Chad Qualls)
Pitches-Strikes - Andy Pettitte 98-69, Chad Qualls 12-7, Mike Gallo 19-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Andy Pettitte 12-4, Chad Qualls 1-0
Batters Faced - Andy Pettitte 26, Chad Qualls 3, Mike Gallo 4
Game Information
Attendance - 28639
Game Time - 2:42
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Chuck Meriwether, First Base - Mike Everitt, Second Base - Tim Timmons, Third Base - Tim McClelland