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Houston at Cincinnati

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Houston (1-5) «100100001380
Cincinnati (5-1)0100001002100

Astros edge previously unbeaten Reds for first win

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CINCINNATI -- For the first time all season, there was a joyful sound in the Houston Astros' clubhouse -- music, sweet music, bouncing off those cinderblock walls.

"I told them, 'Go ahead and turn it up loud!'" manager Brad Mills said.

Why not? The NL's last winless team had finally shed its unwanted distinction.

Matt Downs doubled home the tiebreaking run with two outs in the ninth inning on Thursday and the Astros held on for their first win of the season, 3-2 over the previously unbeaten Cincinnati Reds. They lined up and slapped hands in congratulations behind the pitcher's mound for the first time.

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This was no run-of-the-mill moment.

"Obviously we needed to get one, get it off our back," said Downs, who had struck out in all three at-bats this season. "It starts building every day, and everybody starts talking about it.

"Everybody knows in the back of their minds that we haven't won a game yet."

Though it's far less than what they wanted, it's still much better than last season. The Astros dropped their first eight games in 2010, one shy of matching the franchise record for opening futility.

"I mean, at least we didn't start 0-8 like last year," starter Brett Myers said. "I think we just played better baseball today."

The drama turned their way, too.

Downs doubled off Nick Masset (0-1) for the lead in the top of the ninth, making the most of a second chance. Masset caught him looking at a curve in his previous at-bat, and Downs was ready for that pitch when he used it again.

"In the back of my mind, I thought he was going to come back to that pitch, and he did and left it in a spot where I could hit it," Downs said.

The Reds had won their first five games -- their best start since 1990 -- and gave themselves a chance to keep the streak going. Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto singled with two outs in the ninth off closer Brandon Lyon, who blew a three-run lead in the season opener at Philadelphia.

Up came pinch-hitter Ramon Hernandez, who started the Reds' fast start in an eerily similar circumstance. He hit a two-out, three-run homer in the ninth inning on opening day for a 7-6 win over Milwaukee.

"That's what we did all last year," Hernandez said. "It's what we've done so far this year. We go [hard] until the last out is made and anything can happen."

This time, he grounded into a forceout at second, leaving Texas as the only unbeaten team left in the majors.

Left-hander Fernando Abad (1-0) got his first major league win in relief of Myers, who left in the seventh inning after giving up Scott Rolen's tying pinch-hit homer.

The Reds won their first five with a dominating offense, scoring runs at a Big Red Machine pace. The splurge finally ended, and so did that winning streak.

Houston's pitching staff had allowed only two homers coming in, one of the best marks in the majors. The Astros gave themselves a chance by getting the Reds into a game of small ball -- more suited to their lineup.

Credit Myers for that.

The right-hander didn't let Cincinnati's offense get rolling. Edgar Renteria doubled home a run in the second, and the Reds went on to load the bases with two outs, giving themselves a chance to break it open. Myers got Drew Stubbs to pop up a full-count pitch.

Rolen's solo homer on Myers' 106th and final pitch tied it at 2 in the bottom of the seventh. It was the fourth career pinch-hit homer for Rolen, who was out of the lineup in a day game following a night game.

Myers also pitched well in the season opener, when the Phillies rallied against Lyon for a 5-4 win. This time, the closer held on.

The Astros came in batting only .214 with a league-low two homers. They squeezed out a pair of runs on groundouts: Hunter Pence drove in a first-inning run with a grounder, and Carlos Lee tripled and scored on Brett Wallace's groundout in the fourth.

Notes

  • There was a moment of silence before the start of the game for former Reds pitching coach Larry Shepard, who died on Tuesday.
  • The Astros have their home opener Friday against Florida, starting a 10-game homestand. The Reds begin their first road trip in Arizona.
  • Astros CF Michael Bourn didn't play because of a sore groin.
  • Dusty Baker has won 248 games managing the Reds. He's two wins shy of becoming the 11th manager to win at least 250 games with three teams. He also did it with the Giants and Cubs.
  • The crowd of 20,014 included a walk-up sale of 6,301.
 
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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Matt Downs, who had struck out in all three previous at-bats, doubles home the tiebreaking run with two outs in the ninth. (AP)
Matt Downs, who had struck out in all three previous at-bats, doubles home the tiebreaking run with two outs in the ninth. (AP)

Players of the Game
Houston

B. Myers
IP 6.1
H 6
ER 2
BB 3
K 4
Cincinnati

E. Renteria
AB 3
R 0
H 3
HR 0
RBI 1
 
Houston Astros
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Jason Bourgeois, CF5110032 .250
Angel Sanchez, SS3010000 .333
Hunter Pence, RF3001110 .261
Carlos Lee, LF4110002 .227
Brett Wallace, 1B3111110 .143
Chris Johnson, 3B4010012 .227
Bill Hall, 2B2010101 .143
    Fernando Abad, P0000000 .000
   a- Jason Michaels, PH1000001 .000
    Brandon Lyon, P0000000 .000
Humberto Quintero, C4010013 .133
Brett Myers, P2000012 .500
    Mark Melancon, P0000000 .000
    Matt Downs, 2B2011010 .250
Totals3338339  
a-flied out for Abad in the 9th
Batting
2B - Matt Downs (1, Masset)
3B - Carlos Lee (2, LeCure)
SH - Angel Sanchez (1)
RBI - Hunter Pence (2), Brett Wallace (3), Matt Downs (1)
2-OUT RBI - Matt Downs (1)
SB - Jason Bourgeois (2, 2nd base off LeCure/Hanigan)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Hunter Pence 1
DP - Sanchez-Hall-Wallace
Houston Astros
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Brett Myers 6.1622341 2.03
Mark Melancon 0.1100000 0.00
Fernando Abad (W,1-0) 1.1100100 0.00
Brandon Lyon (S,1) 1200000 11.57
IBB - Hanigan by Brett Myers
Pitches-Strikes - Brett Myers 106-64, Mark Melancon 8-4, Fernando Abad 22-13, Brandon Lyon 19-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brett Myers 5-9, Brandon Lyon 2-1
Batters Faced - Brett Myers 27, Mark Melancon 2, Fernando Abad 6, Brandon Lyon 5
Cincinnati Reds
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Drew Stubbs, CF5000004 .308
Brandon Phillips, 2B5020001 .440
Joey Votto, 1B5020020 .391
Jonny Gomes, LF3100102 .154
    Nick Masset, P0000000 .000
   a- Ramon Hernandez, PH1000002 .333
Jay Bruce, RF4010011 .273
Edgar Renteria, SS3031100 .571
Juan Francisco, 3B4000015 .125
Ryan Hanigan, C3000102 .500
Sam LeCure, P0000100 .000
   b- Miguel Cairo, PH1010000 .400
    Jordan Smith, P0000000 .000
   c- Scott Rolen, PH1111000 .238
    Chris Heisey, LF1000000 .222
Totals36210244  
a-hit into fielder's choice for Masset in the 9th
b-singled for LeCure in the 5th
c-homered for Smith in the 7th
Batting
2B - Edgar Renteria (1, Myers)
HR - Scott Rolen (2, Myers)
RBI - Edgar Renteria (2), Scott Rolen (8)
Team LOB - 11
Fielding
DP - Renteria-B. Phillips-Votto
Cincinnati Reds
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Sam LeCure 5322260 3.00
Jordan Smith 2100010 1.93
Nick Masset (L,0-1) 2411120 3.00
Pitches-Strikes - Sam LeCure 84-51, Jordan Smith 19-13, Nick Masset 33-21
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Sam LeCure 6-3, Jordan Smith 2-2, Nick Masset 2-2
Batters Faced - Sam LeCure 20, Jordan Smith 6, Nick Masset 11
Game Information
Attendance - 20104
Game Time - 2:53
Temperature - 64
Umpires - Home - Jim Reynolds, First Base - Mike DiMuro, Second Base - Andy Fletcher, Third Base - Tim Welke