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Reds beat Astros for 4th straight
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
, AP Sports Writer
Friday, August 31, 2012 8:31 PM
HOUSTON - Jay Bruce had a three-run homer and Zack Cozart added a two-run shot to help the Cincinnati Reds beat the Houston Astros 9-3 on Friday night.
Cozart's home run gave the Reds an early lead before consecutive homers by Fernando Martinez and Matt Dominiguez tied it at 2-all in the fourth inning.
Chris Heisey singled in a run in the fifth to put the Reds on top and Bruce connected for his 28th home run later in the inning to cushion the lead.
It's the fourth straight win for the NL-Central-leading Reds. The loss wraps up a dismal August for the last-place Astros, who have dropped six straight and went 5-22 in this month.
Reds starter Mike Leake (7-8) allowed seven hits and struck out six in six innings.
Brandon Phillips extended his hitting streak to 10 games with three hits and drove in a run for his 71st RBI, which leads all second basemen.
Cozart's two-run homer in the third inning off Houston starter Fernando Abad (0-2) landed in the back of the Crawford Boxes in left field and put Cincinnati up 2-0.
The Astros evened it up in the fourth on the homers by Martinez and Dominguez which both sailed into the second deck. Dominguez's homer was his first in the majors.
Cozart got things started in Cincinnati's big fifth inning with his 32nd double. His performance on Friday night made him the fourth shortstop in franchise history to collect at least 30 doubles and 15 homers in a season, joining Felipe Lopez, Eddie Miller and Barry Larkin - who did it twice.
Heisey followed Cozart's double with an RBI single to give the Reds a 3-2 lead. He advanced to second on an error by right fielder Jimmy Paredes on the play.
Ryan Ludwick's one-out single left runners at the corners, and set up Bruce's three-run homer which pushed the lead to 6-2 and chased Abad.
Abad, a converted reliever, yielded nine hits and walked two in 4 1/3 innings in his second major league start.
Heisey singled and stole second base before a single by Phillips sent Heisey home and left Cincinnati up 7-2.
Leake settled down after the consecutive homers in the fourth inning, retiring nine of the last 10 batters he faced. He was replaced by Sam LeCure, who retired the side in the seventh.
Brett Wallace doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning for Houston.
Pinch-hitter Miguel Cairo had an RBI single in the eighth and Cincinnati added a run in that inning on a force out.
Meanwhile, Reds all-star first baseman Joey Votto made his third injury rehabilitation appearance with the Class A Dayton Dragons on Friday night as Dayton edged the Great Lakes Loons 7-6.
Votto played seven innings and had four plate appearances. He went 0 for 2 with a sacrifice fly and a walk. He flied out to the warning track in left field in the second and grounded out to second base in the fifth.
Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker didn't rule out the possibility of Joey Votto rejoining the team this weekend. But Baker said he'd prefer Votto make his return from two surgical procedures on his left knee next week.
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