Astros end skid with 5-3 win over Reds
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
HOUSTON (AP) After allowing a combined 14 first-inning runs in their last four losses, the Houston Astros were determined to get out of the opening inning on Sunday without falling behind.
Jordan Lyles let them do just that, keeping the Reds hitless until the third and going seven strong innings to lead the Astros to a 5-3 win over Cincinnati.
Justin Maxwell had a two-run homer to help the Astros snap a season-worst eight-game skid.
"It's not easy (when you) give another major league team a three or four spot in the first inning," Lyles said. "I had to really bear down from the get-go and not try to hold anything back or save anything. My main focus was to get through that first inning."
Zack Cozart hit a two-run homer off Lyles in the third inning, but the Reds couldn't get anything else going against the 21 year old.
He allowed five hits and struck out three in his longest start of the year. It's the first win of the season for Lyles (1-1) and his first since last Aug. 20.
"What an effort from Jordan Lyles. That was absolutely outstanding," Houston manager Brad Mills said. "He came right out and shut that down and started making pitches right away."
He has made five starts for Houston, but spent most of the season in Triple-A. Brett Myers pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 13th save.
Mills said Lyles will remain with the team and become a regular part of the rotation. He hopes that will help him improve.
"It can give a calming effect to him maybe, some consistency knowing he's going to get another start," Mills said.
The Astros trailed by one in the fifth inning before an RBI single by Marwin Gonzalez and a sacrifice fly by Jordan Schafer made it 3-2.
Maxwell's homer to the Crawford Boxes in left field came in the seventh inning and chased Reds starter Bronson Arroyo (2-4). It was his major league-leading third pinch-hit homer this year and extended Houston's lead to 5-2.
Arroyo yielded a season-high five earned runs on eight hits in 6 1-3 innings to remain winless since May 7.
"They ran a bunch of guys out there that I didn't know a whole lot about," Arroyo said. "It was a battle where I made some good pitches and some bad pitches, but it just winded up being too many runs to overcome."
Todd Frazier doubled to start the eighth inning and a single by Cozart left Frazier at third. Joey Votto's sacrifice fly with one out got Cincinnati to 5-3. Schafer had to sprint to make the catch on that play right at the wall in center field.
"That really could have started stirring things around if that ball would have fell in," Mills said. "That was just a great catch."
An error on that play allowed Cozart to advance to third, but Brandon Phillips grounded out to end the threat.
The Reds didn't get a hit until Arroyo's single with two outs in the third. Cozart's homer to left field came next to put Cincinnati up 2-1.
Lyles got back on track after that, and the Reds didn't threaten again until the sixth inning. Drew Stubbs singled with one out before Phillips drew a two out walk. But Lyles retired Jay Bruce to end the inning.
Wallace collected his second single in the fifth inning before a single by Castro sent him to third. Gonzalez's single to center field scored Wallace to tie it at 2.
A sacrifice bunt by Lyles advanced the runners to second and third and Houston took the 3-2 lead when Castro scored on the sacrifice fly by Schafer.
Phillips put on a defensive show in the fourth inning with two nifty plays. The first came when he snagged a grounder by J.D. Martinez and twirled around to make the throw to first base. He then robbed Johnson of a hit when he stretched out for a diving catch to end the inning.
NOTES: Houston placed 1B Carlos Lee on the 15-day disabled list because of a left hamstring strain and recalled Wallace from Triple-A Oklahoma City before Sunday's game. It's just the second time in his career that the 35-year-old Lee has been on the disabled list. He was injured running to first base on Friday night. ... Both teams are off on Monday before Houston opens a series against St. Louis and Cincinnati hosts Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
Updated June 3, 2012