|Houston (68-66) «||1||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||x||3||8||0|
HOUSTON -- Brandon Backe thinks he's figured out why he's pitched so badly at times this month.
Humberto Quintero added a solo shot to help the Astros beat the Reds for the 10th time in 12 meetings this season.
Backe (9-12) had one of his best outings of an inconsistent August, allowing six hits and striking out six in 6 2/3 innings. He was 2-2 in his previous four decisions, allowing 11 runs in each of the losses and a total of four runs in the two wins.
Backe said he felt as good on Thursday as he did in his last start, when he gave up three runs on five hits in an 8-3 win over the New York Mets.
"Things are falling in line, I guess," Backe said. "Obviously, the last two games I've thrown the ball pretty good. I've changed the pace of the ball, thrown it over the plate, kept them off-balance."
Houston manager Cecil Cooper said he and pitching coach Dewey Robinson have told Backe repeatedly to trust his fastball and throw more strikes. Cooper hopes Backe is finally executing the plan.
"I'm hoping that's the real Brandon Backe," Cooper said. "Today, he did the same thing he did the last time out, he attacked the strike zone with his fastball, he went to his off-speed stuff when he needed to. He was really good and that's the kind of guy I like to see out there."
Backe didn't allow a run until Jay Bruce hit an RBI triple with two outs in the seventh. Corey Patterson added an RBI single before Backe was relieved by Doug Brocail, who got the final out of the inning.
Backe threw only 89 pitches and was disappointed that he couldn't keep the bullpen rested.
"As efficient as I was today, I'm looking at eight innings or possibly a complete game," Backe said. "I'm obviously frustrated that I didn't last longer."
Harang (4-14) matched a season high with nine strikeouts, but lost for the fifth time in six decisions. His 29 homers allowed are the most by a Reds' pitcher this season.
"The two to Wigginton I thought were my only mistakes," Harang said. "I pretty much put the ball right where I wanted to."
Backe is 4-0 in his last six starts against the Reds. He's struggled in the first inning all season, but breezed through this one in seven pitches.
In the bottom half, Wigginton lined Harang's fifth pitch into the left-field seats, his second homer in two at-bats. Wigginton hit a two-run shot in the seventh inning of Tuesday's 4-1 win.
Quintero, Houston's catcher, hit a solo homer off the left-field foul pole in the Astros' fifth. It was only Quintero's second homer since he was called up from the minors on June 6.
Wigginton led off the Astros sixth with another solo homer, this time off the facade in left center. Wigginton has 19 homers this season and leads the NL with 10 homers this month. He recorded his first multihomer game since last Sept. 15.
Wigginton says he hasn't changed anything about his hitting since the start of the season. He missed the first month with a broken thumb and said he's finally regained his timing at the plate.
"I'm pretty confident in my swing," he said. "I've always felt like, given at-bats, my numbers will always be there."
Brandon Phillips beat out an infield grounder with two outs in the seventh and Bruce snapped out of a 1-for-15 slump with a triple to left. Backe then walked Rosales, prompting a mound visit from Robinson.
Patterson blooped a single to left and Cooper brought in Brocail. Ryan Hanigan grounded into a fielder's choice on Brocail's first pitch.
|Ty Wigginton thrives despite facing a pitcher who K's nine. He has an NL-high 10 HRs in August. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Chris Dickerson, LF||4||0||1||0||0||2||1||.304|
|Jeff Keppinger, SS||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||.268|
|Joey Votto, 1B||4||0||0||0||0||2||1||.285|
|Brandon Phillips, 2B||4||1||1||0||0||1||0||.263|
|Jay Bruce, RF||4||1||1||1||0||1||0||.252|
|Adam Rosales, 3B||2||0||0||0||1||0||0||.100|
|Corey Patterson, CF||3||0||1||1||0||1||0||.197|
|Ryan Hanigan, C||3||0||1||0||0||1||2||.259|
|Aaron Harang, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||1||.140|
|a- Edwin Encarnacion, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.249|
|David Weathers, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-grounded out for Harang in the 8th|
|3B - Jay Bruce (1, Backe)|
|RBI - Jay Bruce (40), Corey Patterson (23)|
|2-OUT RBI - Jay Bruce (17), Corey Patterson (12)|
|PK - Chris Dickerson (1, Backe)|
|Team LOB - 3|
|DP - Votto-Keppinger|
|Aaron Harang (L,4-14)||7||7||3||3||0||9||3||5.27|
|Pitches-Strikes - Aaron Harang 106-71, David Weathers 13-9|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Aaron Harang 4-8, David Weathers 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Aaron Harang 28, David Weathers 3|
|Darin Erstad, CF-LF||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.293|
|Ty Wigginton, LF||4||2||2||2||0||1||0||.297|
|Jose Valverde, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Miguel Tejada, SS||4||0||1||0||0||1||0||.284|
|Lance Berkman, 1B||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||.333|
|Geoff Blum, 3B||3||0||2||0||0||0||1||.243|
|Hunter Pence, RF||3||0||0||0||0||2||2||.258|
|David Newhan, 2B||3||0||1||0||0||1||0||.238|
|Humberto Quintero, C||2||1||1||1||0||0||0||.229|
|Brandon Backe, P||2||0||0||0||0||2||0||.289|
|Doug Brocail, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Mark Loretta, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.268|
|LaTroy Hawkins, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Michael Bourn, CF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.222|
|a-lined out for Brocail in the 7th|
|2B - Lance Berkman (41, Harang)|
|HR - Ty Wigginton 2 (19, Harang, Harang), Humberto Quintero (2, Harang)|
|SH - Humberto Quintero (5)|
|RBI - Ty Wigginton 2 (48), Humberto Quintero (9)|
|Team LOB - 4|
|DP - Berkman-Tejada|
|Brandon Backe (W,9-12)||6.2||6||2||2||1||6||0||5.42|
|Doug Brocail (H,20)||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||4.34|
|LaTroy Hawkins (H,6)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||4.68|
|Jose Valverde (S,35)||1||0||0||0||0||3||0||3.88|
|Pitches-Strikes - Brandon Backe 90-59, LaTroy Hawkins 12-8, Jose Valverde 13-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brandon Backe 5-7, Doug Brocail 1-0, LaTroy Hawkins 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Brandon Backe 25, Doug Brocail 1, LaTroy Hawkins 3, Jose Valverde 3|
|Attendance - 30028|
|Game Time - 2:23|
|Temperature - 73|
|Umpires - Home - Ted Barrett, First Base - Dana DeMuth, Second Base - Lance Barksdale, Third Base - Doug Eddings|