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Cincinnati at Houston

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Cincinnati (58-76)000000200260
Houston (68-66) «10001100x380

Wigginton manages two HRs off dominant Harang as Astros nip Reds

CBSSports.com wire reports
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HOUSTON -- Brandon Backe thinks he's figured out why he's pitched so badly at times this month.

Backe was sharp into the seventh, Ty Wigginton homered twice off Aaron Harang and the Houston Astros beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-2 on Thursday.

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."

LaTroy Hawkins pitched a scoreless eighth and Jose Valverde struck out the side in the ninth for his 35th save.

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.

Backe struck out the first two batters he faced in the sixth. Chris Dickerson singled up the middle, but Quintero picked off Dickerson with a quick throw to Lance Berkman.

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.

Notes

  • Harang has lost his last two decisions against Houston after winning the previous six.
  • Wigginton has seven multihomer games in his career.
  • The Reds sent RHP Jared Burton to Triple-A Louisville on Thursday to begin a rehab assignment. Burton has been on the disabled list since July 11 with a strained right latissimus muscle.
 
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Ty Wigginton thrives despite facing a pitcher who K's nine. He has an NL-high 10 HRs in August.  (AP)
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
Houston

T. Wigginton
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 2
RBI 2
Houston

B. Backe
IP 6.2
H 6
ER 2
BB 1
K 6
 
Cincinnati Reds
Chris Dickerson, LF4010021 .304
Jeff Keppinger, SS4010011 .268
Joey Votto, 1B4000021 .285
Brandon Phillips, 2B4110010 .263
Jay Bruce, RF4111010 .252
Adam Rosales, 3B2000100 .100
Corey Patterson, CF3011010 .197
Ryan Hanigan, C3010012 .259
Aaron Harang, P2000011 .140
   a- Edwin Encarnacion, PH1000000 .249
    David Weathers, P0000000 .000
Totals31262110  
a-grounded out for Harang in the 8th
Batting
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
Fielding
DP - Votto-Keppinger
Cincinnati Reds
Aaron Harang (L,4-14) 7733093 5.27
David Weathers 1100000 3.39
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
Houston Astros
Darin Erstad, CF-LF4000011 .293
Ty Wigginton, LF4222010 .297
    Jose Valverde, P0000000 .000
Miguel Tejada, SS4010010 .284
Lance Berkman, 1B4010011 .333
Geoff Blum, 3B3020001 .243
Hunter Pence, RF3000022 .258
David Newhan, 2B3010010 .238
Humberto Quintero, C2111000 .229
Brandon Backe, P2000020 .289
    Doug Brocail, P0000000 .000
   a- Mark Loretta, PH1000001 .268
    LaTroy Hawkins, P0000000 .000
    Michael Bourn, CF0000000 .222
Totals3038309  
a-lined out for Brocail in the 7th
Batting
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
Fielding
DP - Berkman-Tejada
Houston Astros
Brandon Backe (W,9-12) 6.2622160 5.42
Doug Brocail (H,20) 0.1000000 4.34
LaTroy Hawkins (H,6) 1000010 4.68
Jose Valverde (S,35) 1000030 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
Game Information
Attendance - 30028
Game Time - 2:23
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - Ted Barrett, First Base - Dana DeMuth, Second Base - Lance Barksdale, Third Base - Doug Eddings