HOUSTON (AP) - J.A. Happ put together a solid start. Unfortunately for the Houston Astros, so did Mike Leake.
Happ pitched a season-high seven innings, but the sliding Astros struggled against Leake and lost 4-1 to the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night.
``I think Happ gave us exactly what we needed tonight,' Houston manager Brad Mills said. ``He got us through seven innings. It was a quality start. I know it was a losing effort, but it was a quality start. The first inning was big. Two outs, nobody was on and they were able to get two runs.'
Joey Votto hit a two-out single in the first and scored on Brandon Phillips' double off the wall in center, putting Cincinnati up 1-0. Jay Bruce then singled in Phillips.
Votto added another run-scoring single in the third.
``I thought I made some good pitches, but then I didn't make a few,' Happ said. ``I guess sometimes there are games where there is no room for error, and those are tough ones. That kind of was one tonight.'
Happ (4-5) settled down after the slow start, allowing just five hits overall. He struck out seven and walked two.
Leake (2-5) was even better, finishing with a season-high seven strikeouts in seven innings. He gave up one run and four hits.
``He was just throwing strikes when he needed them,' Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said. ``He would get in trouble, and he would slow down a little bit and find his tempo and his rhythm. Then after that he would go back at them again. That was big to get him his second one and hopefully he can get on a roll.'
Leake retired 11 of 12 batters before Jose Altuve and Jed Lowrie hit consecutive singles to start Houston's sixth inning. Carlos Lee grounded into a double play that allowed Altuve to score.
Jordan Schafer singled in the eighth, but was out at second when Altuve bounced into a force play. Lowrie walked before Lee grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Lee pulled up while running to first base with a strained left hamstring. He hobbled off the field and Chris Johnson moved from third base to first to replace him for the ninth.
Mills said Lee was day to day, but that he would rest on Saturday.
``I will see the doctors, and everything is going to go on how I feel (Saturday) and Sunday,' Lee said. ``After that, we might have an idea.'
Bruce connected against Wesley Wright with two out in the ninth, hitting a drive to right for his 12th homer. Aroldis Chapman then struck out the side in the bottom half for his fourth save.
Houston has dropped seven straight in its longest skid since it lost seven in a row last August.
Happ settled down after Votto's run-scoring single in the third, and Phillips grounded into a double play to end that inning. He allowed a single by Ryan Ludwick with one out in the fourth, but got Todd Frazier to ground into a double play.
He retired the next seven after that, with Cincinnati's next baserunner coming on a walk by Ludwick with one out in the seventh.
Lee singled in the second and Leake walked Brian Bogusevic with one out. A single by J.D. Martinez loaded the bases, but Leake escaped the jam when Chris Snyder grounded into a forceout and Happ struck out to end the inning.
``Offensively, the second inning would have been nice. The bases loaded, and we weren't able to get anything with one out,' Mills said. ``Then, the sixth inning when we did get a run, but we had first and third with nobody out, and I would have liked to keep that inning going.'
NOTES: The Astros wore the rainbow jerseys the team wore from 1975-86. Former Houston pitcher J.R. Richard, who went 107-71 in a 10-year career with the team, threw out the ceremonial first pitch and was inducted into the Astros Walk of Fame before the game. ... Houston OF Travis Buck has a sore heel and was not available. Mills said he'd probably need a couple of days. ... These teams continue the series on Saturday when Cincinnati's Mat Latos opposes left-hander Wandy Rodriguez.
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