CINCINNATI — Welcome back, Joey Votto.
Having missed 12 starts over the previous 17 games due to dizziness, flu-like symptoms and an inner ear infection, Votto snapped a 4-4 tie with a two-run home run in the seventh inning Tuesday.
That was enough as the Cincinnati Reds handed the Houston Astros their sixth loss in a row, 6-4 at Great American Ball Park.
After battling Reds nemesis Roy Oswalt to a 4-4 draw through six innings, Cincinnati jumped on reliever Tim Byrdak (0-1) in the seventh.
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Jerry Hairston Jr. led off with a walk.
Votto lined a 1-0 pitch into the left-field stands, his eighth homer of the season. He was a pinch hitter the last two games and had not made a start since Sunday.
Houston's Edwin Maysonet, who played for the Lexington Legends in 2004 and part of 2005, got his first start at second base since being called up from Triple-A Round Rock last Friday. He knocked the second and third hits of his big-league career, first two of this season, and recorded his first career RBI.
The Reds packaged three singles to open the scoring with two runs in the third.
Reds starter Micah Owings and leadoff man Chris Dickerson singled. Jerry Hairston Jr.'s bunt put runners on second and third. Votto struck out.
But Ramon Hernandez drove a two-run single up the middle.
The Astros took a 3-2 lead in the fourth, but it didn't last long.
Laynce Nix led off the bottom of the fourth with a homer to right, his fourth of the year.
Owings gave way to Mike Lincoln to open the sixth.
Keppinger drove Lincoln's first pitch into the left-field stands for a 4-3 Astros lead.
The Reds came back in the bottom of the inning to tie.
Jay Bruce, snapping an 0-for-15 slump, zinged a one-out single to right.
One out later, Oswalt lost his control. He walked Alex Gonzalez, hit Adam Rosales and walked pinch-hitter Jonny Gomes to force in Bruce. Oswalt remains 23-1 in 31 starts against the Reds — the only pitcher in big-league history to win 23 of his first 24 decisions against a team.
Nick Masset (2-0) pitched a scoreless seventh to get the win. Francisco Cordero closed out the ninth for his 13th save.
Masset back from disabled list
Long reliever Nick Masset was reinstated from the disabled list on Tuesday, putting the Reds' bullpen back at full strength.
Masset strained muscles in his left side on May 10 in St. Louis.
The Reds optioned utility player Wilkin Castillo to Triple-A Louisville to open a spot for Masset.
Outfielder Darnell McDonald cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Louisville on Tuesday. He was batting .175 when he was designated on Friday.