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Late rally lifts Reds past Astros; Aurilia goes 4-for-4 with homer, 3 RBI

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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CINCINNATI -- Rich Aurilia's first two hits didn't make it out of the infield. His third was a double that conveniently landed just inside the foul line.

In his fourth at-bat, he still had a little luck left.

Aurilia got a hanging slider on his first pitch in the eighth inning, and connected for a three-run homer that rallied the Cincinnati Reds to a 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros on Monday night.

The pitch from reliever Chad Qualls provided a fitting finish to his 4-for-4 night.

"It was a slider," Aurilia said. "It didn't do much."

Royce Clayton's run-scoring single later in the eighth completed the comeback and tightened the NL Central. Second-place Cincinnati moved two games behind idle St. Louis, staying in contention with a retooled roster and a lot of late comebacks.

"This is a resilient bunch," Aurilia said. "It's a lot of fun. Nobody ever gives up. It says a lot about the guys on the team -- even the new guys. It's been like a revolving door all season, but we keep getting the same type of people."

The Reds have morphed into a contender by remaking their roster during the season -- 13 of the current 25 players were obtained since spring training -- and by doing some of their best hitting in the last innings.

Aurilia's homer and Clayton's single off Qualls (4-3) gave the Reds their eighth win of the season when they trailed after seven innings.

"It's a shame we were not able to pull this one off," said left-hander Andy Pettitte, who turned a 2-0 lead over to the Astros bullpen in the sixth. "They've been playing extremely well and coming back late in games all year."

By contrast, the Astros lost for the eighth time in 10 games, unable to get anything other than solo homers. Aubrey Huff hit two of them, and Lance Berkman also connected off Bronson Arroyo.

Willy Taveras extended his hitting streak to 24 games with a game-opening bunt single, then got caught stealing on the next pitch -- a sign that things wouldn't come easy for an Astros offense that is often all-or-nothing.

"I can't explain that," manager Phil Garner said. "We've been down that road probably -- how many games have we played, 125? We've probably had 100 games like this. I don't have an explanation."

Ryan Franklin (4-6) pitched a perfect eighth to get the win, and newcomer Scott Schoeneweis got the last three outs for his first save. The Reds are using a collection of relievers to close games while Eddie Guardado is on the disabled list with a sore forearm.

The no-decision left Arroyo stuck in a two-month rut. The All-Star has only one victory in his last 12 starts, the result of misfortune and mistakes that prompted him to briefly change his hairstyle for luck.

Again Monday, there was no such luck. He gave up only five hits, including solo homers by Berkman and Huff, but left trailing 2-0 after six innings.

"It was tough to come out," Arroyo said. "I felt so good. A game like that, you have so much energy. It felt like the game went by in two seconds."

It dragged for Pettitte, who matched his season high by fanning 10 batters in 5 1/3 scoreless innings before leaving after his 118th pitch. He allowed six hits and escaped bases-loaded threats in the second and third innings, hiking his pitch count.

Then, he played spectator to another nasty loss.

"They're tough, that's for sure," Pettitte said. "There has been a lot of heartbreak games this year. We did that the last few years to teams."

Berkman led off the second inning with his 34th homer, adding to his history of success against Cincinnati. His 12 homers at Great American Ball Park are the most by any visiting player, and his 35 career homers against Cincinnati are a personal best.

Huff also homered off Arroyo, who has given up a career-high 28 this season, second-most in the NL. Huff added another solo shot, his seventh, off Rheal Cormier in the seventh.

Notes

  • It was Huff's second two-homer game of the season and the sixth of his career.
  • Taveras' streak is one shy of Jeff Kent's club record, 25 games in 2004.
  • The longest hitting streak in the NL this season was by Philadelphia's Chase Utley, who hit in 35 straight.
  • LHP Chris Michalak is expected back in time to make his scheduled start on Wednesday against the Astros. He returned to his native Joliet, Ill., after the death of his 102-year-old grandmother, who will be buried on Tuesday.
 
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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Rich Aurilia receives a high-five from Adam Dunn. Aurilia finishes 4-for-4 with a three-run HR.  (AP)
Rich Aurilia receives a high-five from Adam Dunn. Aurilia finishes 4-for-4 with a three-run HR. (AP)

Players of the Game
Cincinnati

R. Aurilia
AB 4
R 1
H 4
HR 1
RBI 3
Houston

A. Huff
AB 3
R 2
H 2
HR 2
RBI 2
 

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Houston Astros
Willy Taveras, CF4010000 .276
Craig Biggio, 2B3000100 .259
Mike Lamb, 1B4010001 .307
Lance Berkman, RF3111111 .313
Luke Scott, LF4000021 .405
Aubrey Huff, 3B3222000 .277
    Chad Qualls, P0000000 .000
Adam Everett, SS3000010 .235
Brad Ausmus, C3000020 .223
Andy Pettitte, P2010000 .188
    Russ Springer, P0000000 .000
    Morgan Ensberg, 3B1000000 .233
Totals30363263 
Batting
HR - Lance Berkman (34, Arroyo), Aubrey Huff 2 (15, Arroyo, Cormier)
RBI - Lance Berkman (103), Aubrey Huff 2 (49)
CS - Willy Taveras (7, 2nd base by Arroyo/Ross)
Team LOB - 2
Fielding
DP - Biggio-Everett-Lamb
Houston Astros
Andy Pettitte 5.16004100 4.51
Russ Springer (H,6) 0.2000000 3.50
Chad Qualls (BS,5; L,4-3) 2644021 4.44
Pitches-Strikes - Andy Pettitte 118-71, Russ Springer 8-5, Chad Qualls 32-24
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Andy Pettitte 2-3, Chad Qualls 2-1
Batters Faced - Andy Pettitte 25, Russ Springer 2, Chad Qualls 11
Cincinnati Reds
Ryan Freel, RF5000025 .286
Royce Clayton, SS4021110 .267
Ken Griffey Jr., CF4010022 .250
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B3110101 .300
Adam Dunn, LF4110022 .248
Rich Aurilia, 1B4143000 .289
David Ross, C2000223 .279
Brandon Phillips, 2B4120012 .295
Bronson Arroyo, P2000023 .117
   a- Javier Valentin, PH1000002 .242
    Rheal Cormier, P0000000 .000
    Ryan Franklin, P0000000 .000
   b- Todd Hollandsworth, PH1010000 .225
    Scott Schoeneweis, P0000000 .000
Totals34412441220 
a-lined out for Arroyo in the 6th
b-singled for Franklin in the 8th
Batting
2B - Adam Dunn (20, Qualls), Rich Aurilia (21, Pettitte)
HR - Rich Aurilia (18, Qualls)
RBI - Royce Clayton (36), Rich Aurilia 3 (51)
2-OUT RBI - Royce Clayton (14)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Ryan Freel 1
DP - Freel-Aurilia, B. Phillips-Aurilia
Cincinnati Reds
Bronson Arroyo 6522232 3.44
Rheal Cormier 1111011 2.14
Ryan Franklin (W,4-6) 1000000 4.41
Scott Schoeneweis (S,2) 1000020 6.02
Pitches-Strikes - Bronson Arroyo 85-54, Rheal Cormier 15-10, Ryan Franklin 10-8, Scott Schoeneweis 11-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Bronson Arroyo 6-6, Rheal Cormier 2-0, Ryan Franklin 2-1, Scott Schoeneweis 1-0
Batters Faced - Bronson Arroyo 22, Rheal Cormier 4, Ryan Franklin 3, Scott Schoeneweis 3
Game Information
Attendance - 24110
Game Time - 2:45
Temperature - 84
Umpires - Home - C.B. Bucknor, First Base - Adam Dowdy, Second Base - Wally Bell, Third Base - Mark Carlson