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Thu, May 5, 2011 - 12:35 PM ET
 

Astros-Reds Preview

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The Cincinnati Reds ended their losing streak in dramatic fashion the last time they took the field. Homer Bailey looks to provide another spark in his return.

Bailey makes his first start of the season as Cincinnati closes out a three-game set with the visiting Houston Astros on Thursday.

The Reds (15-15) ended a three-game skid by rallying for a 3-2 victory Wednesday, entering the bottom of the ninth down 2-0 with only one hit. Jay Bruce hit an RBI double to complete the comeback.

"That's the kind of team we have," manager Dusty Baker said. "If you go home, you might miss the ballgame. Sometimes, you have games that you can't believe you won, just like sometimes you have games you can't believe you lost."

Bailey, who went 4-3 with a 4.46 ERA in 2010, looks to continue the momentum. The right-hander has been recovering from a shoulder injury, and with Monday's series opener rained out, Baker decided to start Bailey in Thursday's makeup game rather than have him make another minor league rehabilitation appearance.

In his last start for Triple-A Louisville on Saturday, Bailey allowed one run and five hits in 6 1-3 innings. He went 2-0 with a 0.54 ERA in three rehab starts.

With Bailey returning and Johnny Cueto set to be back Sunday after a right triceps injury, Baker believes the Reds' best days are ahead after a slow start.

"We're trying to get whole, trying to get healthy," Baker told the team's official website. "Right now, our total game isn't together - it's not even close to as good as we can be."

Reigning NL MVP Joey Votto had an RBI single in the ninth Wednesday, marking the 30th consecutive game he's reached base safely. Dave Collins holds the team record by accomplishing the feat in 34 straight in 1981.

Votto is 9 for 21 (.429) in five games this season against Houston (12-18), which looks to rebound after its struggling closer faltered again.

Brandon Lyon blew his fourth save in eight chances, allowing three runs on four hits while not recording an out in the ninth. Lyon, who has a 7.15 ERA, has been sent back to Houston to have his right shoulder examined for weakness.

It's unclear who will be taking over the closer's role for Lyon, who converted 20 of his 22 save chances last season.

"We've got confidence in our bullpen, even with Brandon," catcher J.R. Towles said.

The Astros' starting pitchers, however, haven't allowed a run in three of the last four games, and Brett Myers (1-1, 3.72) hopes to continue that success.

Myers is coming off a 5-0 loss to Milwaukee on Friday, allowing four runs in six innings. He didn't receive a decision after giving up two runs over 6 1-3 innings versus the Reds in a 3-2 victory April 7, though he's mainly struggled against them in recent years.

Myers is 1-3 with a 4.31 ERA in his last five starts versus Cincinnati, and Reds shortstop Edgar Renteria is 20 for 43 (.465) with two home runs against him.

The offense looks to give Myers some support, though it's unclear if left fielder Carlos Lee will be ready to return. Lee missed his second straight game Wednesday with bruised ribs after colliding with teammate Angel Sanchez in the outfield Sunday against Milwaukee.

Jason Bourgeois had an RBI single filling in for Lee. He's 9 for 17 (.529) in his last four games.

Tagged: Reds, Astros, Carlos Lee, Brandon Lyon, Brett Myers, Homer Bailey

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