CINCINNATI — The Houston Astros looked mighty fine a day after losing slugger Carlos Lee.
In their first game after the National League's RBI leader suffered an injury that could keep him out for the rest of the regular season, Houston set season highs with eight extra-base hits and 13 runs while rolling to their biggest win of the season, 13-4 over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday.
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Michael Bourn homered off Aaron Harang and drove in a career-high four runs, and Lance Berkman and Geoff Blum also went deep to help the Astros post their eighth victory in their last 10 games.
Their 13 runs, the most scored by Houston since an 18-1 win at St. Louis last Sept. 20, came less than 24 hours after Lee broke his left pinkie when he was hit by a pitch. He is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks.
”Carlos already had (100) RBI by mid-August,“ Bourn said. ”That's hard to do. We're just trying to pick up the slack. It was a good day, all the way around.“
Harang (3-12), activated from the disabled list before the game after not pitching since July 8 because of stiffness in his right forearm, set a career high by allowing eight earned runs in just four innings. Houston tagged him for nine hits and a walk.
”Physically, I felt good,“ Harang said. ”Everything I threw was right over the middle of the plate. Early on, especially in the first inning, they were sitting on my slider. That's definitely not the way I wanted to come back.“
The Reds have dropped a season-high six straight and 14 of their last 16.
”That was some week here — a bad week,“ Reds Manager Dusty Baker said. ”Not just bad games, but a bad week.“
Former Lexington Legend Wandy Rodriguez (7-4) retired the first 14 batters he faced on the way to his fourth win in his last five starts. He lasted 62⁄3 innings, allowing five hits and two runs with one walk and seven strikeouts.
For the fourth time in the series, Houston scored in the first inning, this time scoring five runs on RBI doubles by Miguel Tejada and Blum, and Bourn's three-run homer. It was his fifth of the season and first in 83 at-bats since June 25.
Houston outscored the Reds by a total of 9-0 in the first innings of the series.
”It's like a broken record, getting behind by a lot early,“ Baker said. ”I can't remember a clean, 1-2-3 first inning. It's been a while. It makes for a long day and a long week.“
Reds designate Ross
In addition to activating Aaron Harang, the Reds recalled catcher Ryan Hanigan from Triple-A Louisville on Sunday.
To make room on the roster, the Reds optioned right-hander Homer Bailey to Louisville and designated catcher David Ross for assignment.
Ross hit .231 with three home runs and 13 RBI in 52 games with Cincinnati this season. Bailey is 0-6 with a 7.93 ERA in eight starts over two stints with the Reds.
Hanigan, who went 3-for-10 in five games with the Reds last September, hit .324 with four home runs and 35 RBI in 75 games this season with Louisville.