HOUSTON (AP) - Two nights in a row it looked as if the Houston Astros were going to break out of their losing skid.
Instead, Drew Stubbs came up with big ninth-inning hits in both games to lead the Cincinnati Reds to wins and add to the Astros' misery.
Stubbs launched a two-out, two-run double that rallied the Reds past Houston 5-3 Wednesday night for their season-high seventh straight win.
Stubbs came through with the Reds trailing 3-2. A night earlier, he hit a two-run homer in the ninth that wiped out the Astros' one-run lead.
Both of Stubbs' hits came against former teammate Francisco Cordero (3-7).
The NL Central leaders sent Houston to its ninth loss in a row, tying a season worst.
``We can say we're snake-bitten or whatever, but we've still got to play the game,' Houston manager Brad Mills said.
Houston scored three times in the eighth to take the lead. But pinch hitter Xavier Paul opened the Cincinnati ninth with a double off Cordero and pinch hitter Brandon Phillips drew a one-out walk.
Stubbs' double pinged low on the wall in center field to allow Paul and Phillips to score. Jay Bruce added an insurance run with an RBI single later in the ninth.
Sean Marshall (3-3) got the last out in the eighth for the win and closer Aroldis Chapman pitched a scoreless ninth for his 19th save.
``You're right there,' Houston's J.D. Martinez said of the last two games. ``After yesterday and tonight, we came back and battled. But that's baseball. It's frustrating, but I'm sure we'll bounce back.'
Cordero has blown both of his save opportunities since joining the Astros in a trade from Toronto on Friday.
Mills said he wouldn't be available to pitch on Thursday, but wouldn't comment on his future as the team's closer beyond that.
``Give us some time moving forward, and we'll go from there,' he said. ``I thought he seemed crisper tonight than last night, and that's a good sign.'
The Astros trailed 2-0 entering the eighth before Jose Altuve doubled off Logan Ondrusek. Scott Moore and Martinez hit RBI doubles and two errors put Houston ahead.
``It was great to see J.D. read that ball real well,' Mills said. ``Those are the types of things we want them to do. They're staying up and busting their tails and getting after it. It's those types of things that are going to get us out of this funk.'
Reds starter Homer Bailey scattered four hits with seven strikeouts over seven scoreless innings.
The Astros had plenty of opportunities to put more runs on the board, but went 2 for 15 with runners in scoring position.
``That was our Achilles' heel today,' Mills said.
Astros starter Bud Norris yielded five hits and a run with seven strikeouts in seven innings. He hasn't won since May 21.
``I made a lot of mechanical adjustments, and I'm happy that I pitched well,' said Norris, who allowed nine runs in his last start. ``These guys battle hard and once again, it's another tough one to swallow.'
Scott Rolen's RBI single pushed Cincinnati's lead to 2-0 in the eighth.
Devin Mesoraco singled to start the third, advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Bailey and scored on Stubbs' two-out double.
The Reds turned a double play to end the third inning before Bailey retired six of the next seven batters.
Brian Bogusevic singled with one out in the Houston seventh and Carlos Corporan drew a walk. Then with a group of his friends and relatives chanting, ``Homer, Homer,' Bailey retired the next two Astros to preserve the lead and end his night.
NOTES: Reds manager Dusty Baker kept 2B Phillips out of the starting lineup for rest, then used him in the ninth. ... The Astros recalled reliever Xavier Cedeno from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday. ... Baker said that star first baseman Joey Votto, on the disabled list after arthroscopic knee surgery, is progressing well but that he doesn't have an official timetable for his return. ... The Reds have a day off on Thursday before opening a three-game series at Colorado on Friday. ... Rookie Dallas Keuchel pitches for Houston on Thursday when the Astros open a four-game series with A.J. Burnett and the Pittsburgh Pirates. ... Houston promoted RHPs Jose Cisnero, Jarred Cosart and Jake Buchanan to Oklahoma City on Wednesday and sent RHP Paul Clemens to Double-A Corpus Christi.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved