While the Cincinnati Reds and major league-worst Houston Astros are now in different leagues, the results have been the same.
Looking to continue their playoff push, Jay Bruce and the visiting Reds try to sweep their former NL Central rivals on Wednesday night.
After taking Monday's opener 6-1, Cincinnati (86-66) improved to 40-17 against Houston since 2009 with a 10-0 rout the following night. Bruce hit a grand slam and drove in a career high-tying five runs for the Reds, who are 4 1/2 games ahead of Washington for the NL's second wild-card spot with 10 to go.
Bruce has now hit 30 homers in three straight seasons, and his 100 RBIs are a career high. The right fielder is batting .382 with eight homers and 26 RBIs in 17 games against the Astros since the start of last year.
"Thirty home runs is almost automatic if he stays healthy because that's his swing," manager Dusty Baker said. "We had (Sin-Soo) Choo on all the time and we had Joey (Votto) on all the time and he had quite a few chances. Now he's cashing them in and hopefully it continues into the playoffs."
The Astros (51-100), meanwhile, are the first team to lose 100 games in three straight seasons since Kansas City from 2004-06.
"I'm always going to concentrate on the things we need to do to improve," said manager Bo Porter, whose team has dropped four straight by a 24-4 margin. "I don't concern myself with what it is people are going to say. I concern myself about the men in that clubhouse and how we're going to get better every day."
Houston will try to regroup against Reds starter Greg Reynolds (1-2, 5.66 ERA). The right-hander hasn't pitched since allowing four runs and six hits in 1 2-3 innings after relieving an injured Tony Cingrani with two outs in the second inning of a 9-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 10.
Reynolds, though, went 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA in two starts toward the end of last month.
"You can prepare a lot better when you know you're getting the ball," he told MLB's official website. "I'm obviously more comfortable with that. I'm excited for another opportunity, and I just want to do well. I'm just kind of embracing this whole thing."
Reynolds will be opposed by Brad Peacock (5-5, 5.27), who is 4-1 with a 3.64 ERA in his last five outings. The right-hander is looking to win a career-high third consecutive start after yielding one run in six innings last Wednesday in a 6-1 victory at Seattle.
"He's been outstanding," Porter said of Peacock. "It's been quality start after quality start."
Peacock, who has never faced Cincinnati, is 1-3 with a 6.84 ERA in five home starts. He will need to be careful against Votto, who is batting .489 with five homers, 20 RBIs and 24 runs during a 23-game hitting streak at Minute Maid Park, the longest by a player in the stadium's history.
Votto is also batting .444 with two homers and six RBIs in his last 11 games overall.
Houston placed Jason Castro on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with discomfort in his right knee, ending his season. The All-Star catcher hit .276 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs in 120 games.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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