HOUSTON (AP) - Wandy Rodriguez is Houston's career leader for strikeouts by a left-hander. Unfortunately for Rodriguez and the Astros, one bad inning put a damper on milestone.
Rodriguez gave up five runs in the fifth inning, highlighted by Edgar Renteria's ninth career grand slam, and the Astros lost 5-1 to the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.
Cincinnati was struggling offensively before two doubles, two walks - including one to Reds starter Homer Bailey - and Renteria's second homer of the season put the Reds ahead 5-0 and led to Rodriguez's departure after just 78 pitches.
Rodriguez (7-8) said he felt soreness in his back toward his right shoulder before the game, but the discomfort did not factor into his performance.
``That's not an excuse,' said Rodriguez, who did not bring up the back issue until asked. ``I threw my first four innings. I felt sore earlier in the bullpen, but that's no excuse. I felt sore all game, but I could throw the ball.'
Astros manager Brad Mills agreed with Rodriguez's assessment.
``That one inning did him in,' Mills said. ``The first four innings he gave up one hit and was throwing the ball extremely well. That fifth inning, the big at-bat was the one to the pitcher, ended up walking him on nine pitches. He is OK. He had a little knot or something in his right side (of his back).
``He said he was fine and through the first four innings threw the ball really well.'
A day after edging the Reds 4-3 in extra innings, the Astros' new-look lineup mustered just one run and five hits, going 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
Houston lost for the ninth time in 12 games but did get four innings of two-hit ball from relievers Aneury Rodriguez, David Carpenter and Enerio del Rosario.
``It was nice to see the bullpen again come through with four shutout innings,' Mills said.
Bailey (6-5), who grew up about 100 miles west of Houston in La Grange, allowed one run and five hits in eight innings. He struck out four and walked three.
Recently acquired Luis Durango singled in Jimmy Paredes in the fifth for Houston's only run.
``Two of the times he's thrown really well have been here, and I know he's from Texas,' Mills said of Bailey. ``So that might have something to do with it; I don't know.'
Rodriguez, who has played his entire major league career with the Astros, struck out Drew Stubbs with his signature curveball in the third inning for his 947th career strikeout, passing Bob Knepper for the team's lefty lead.
Chris Heisey and Ramon Hernandez sparked Cincinnati's big inning with consecutive doubles, making it 1-0. After Todd Frazier grounded out, Bailey and Stubbs walked to load the bases for Renteria, who hit a 1-0 fastball into the Crawford Boxes in left field.
Renteria entered the game hitting .357 against Rodriguez, who left after the fifth.
``In the fifth inning you see I threw a lot of close pitches to home plate and (the umpire) didn't call them,' Rodriguez said. ``When I got behind I tried to throw strikes and the guys hit the ball.'
The at-bat that irked Rodriguez the most was the one against Bailey.
``I threw a lot of fastballs and he got a little contact for foul ball, foul ball, foul ball,' Rodriguez said. ``On 3-2, I tried to make it like a breaking ball for a strike and I threw a little bit down, and he didn't swing.'
``I wanted to make the out in this situation.'
NOTES: Baker said 3B Scott Rolen, sidelined by an inflamed left shoulder, will not be ready to come off the disabled list when he is eligible on Friday. He said he would know more about when he might be activated on Wednesday. ... Houston OF Jordan Schafer, on the DL with an injured left middle finger, should begin swinging by the end of the week. Schafer was acquired from Atlanta in the Michael Bourn trade. ... LHP Dontrelle Willis starts for the Reds in Wednesday night's series finale against Houston rookie Jordan Lyles. Both pitchers are winless this season, with Lyles 0-6 in 11 starts and Willis 0-1 in four starts. ... The 20-year-old Lyles is the youngest player in the National League and the second youngest in the majors behind the Angels' Mike Trout.
The Associated Press News Service
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