HOUSTON (AP) - Houston's ace has been struggling lately and the offense hasn't helped the cause.
Brett Myers gave up six runs over the first two innings Tuesday night en route to dropping his third straight start, and the Astros extended their slide to four games with a 7-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds at Minute Maid Park.
After the game, Myers (1-3) offered no excuses for his latest stumble, saying he was late to recognize the Reds, whom he faced for the third time this season, were sitting on his off-speed pitches.
``My stuff was fine; it was pitch selection,' Myers said. ``I felt that I was throwing too many breaking pitches (early). I was pitching all those guys like they were Babe Ruth or something like that the first two innings, instead of trusting my stuff and going right after them.'
It was Myers' second consecutive defeat at the hands of Texas native Homer Bailey and the Reds.
The Astros, who have lost six of seven, are 2-6 against the Reds this season.
All three of the Astros runs came in the eighth and were more the result of a poor outing by Reds reliever Aroldis Champan than an effective offense.
Chapman hit a batter and walked three others, forcing in the Astros' first run, before leaving the mound with no outs. Hunter Pence greeted replacement Nick Masset with a two-run single to put the Astros within four before the Reds reliever retired the next three batters to end the inning.
It was also Myers' second straight home loss after going undefeated through his first 16 starts as an Astro at Minute Maid Park dating to last season.
The first came April 29, a 5-0 loss at the hands of the Milwaukee Brewers that, similar to Tuesday, saw Myers fall behind early. He gave up back-to-back solo homers in the first inning - and the Astros offense struggled.
But unlike the previous time out, Myers could not point to the wind for this one. This time the roof was closed.
Yet that didn't stop Jay Bruce from taking him deep for a two-run home run to right that doubled the Reds' lead to 4-0 with one out in the first inning.
Walking Drew Stubbs and Edgar Renteria to start the inning proved just as costly for Myers.
Joey Votto first put the Reds ahead with a double that scored Stubbs, and Renteria made it 2-0 on a Brandon Phillips groundout.
Myers allowed two more runs in the second inning, Votto's second and third RBIs of the night on his second double, before settling down.
He shut out the Reds through the next four innings before leaving after the sixth inning on a night in which he set a season high for walks (three) and tied season highs for runs (six) and hits (10) allowed as well as strikeouts (eight).
``For the last four innings I think I started throwing a lot more fastballs and trying to make them hit it, and it worked out for me for the last four innings,' said Myers, who pitched at least six innings for the 39th time in 41 appearances. ``But the first two innings I'm definitely not happy about how it went down. ``It's my fault for being ignorant and not recognizing that from the get-go, and it cost me six runs.'
``I learned over the last four innings that I have to trust my stuff a little bit more to start the game. I can't fall into patterns.'
Similar to Myers' previous home loss was his offense afforded him little run support.
The Astros gave up 15 hits and had only seven, five of them against Bailey.
The 25-year-old Bailey struck out five and walked none through seven innings in improving to 2-0 in his second start of the season and lowering his ERA to 0.69.
``He's got good stuff. He's always had it,' Houston's Brett Wallace said. ``He's got a good heater, and he pitches off that and then he's got the split in his slider and a big curve ball. He's able to mix it up and keep us off balance.'
The Reds picked up one last run in the seventh, with catcher Ryan Hanigan connecting an RBI single to right off Astros reliever Enerio del Rosario to make it 7-0.
It could have been worse for the Astros, as the Reds left 13 men on base to the Astros' seven.
NOTES: Reds manager Dusty Baker hopes that SS Paul Janish can play on Wednesday, but isn't sure if he'll be able to. Janish hasn't played since spraining his right ankle Friday at Chicago. ... Houston INF Jeff Keppinger, who has been on the disabled list all season with a foot injury, could begin a rehabilitation assignment as early as Thursday.
The Associated Press News Service
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