Reds 5, Astros 3
Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker wasn't ready to rave about his team after the Reds captured a season-high seventh straight victory on Wednesday night.
Still, he's happy with the way the NL Central leaders have been pulling out wins lately.
Drew Stubbs delivered another huge hit in the ninth inning, launching a two-out, two-run double that rallied the Reds past Houston 5-3.
''Well, we haven't been really playing that well,'' Baker said. ''We've been playing well enough to win, which is what we're here for. We've been getting some clutch hits, some very good pitching and that's what it starts with is the pitching ... we've put together some good streaks and that's why we are where we are.''
Stubbs came through with the Reds trailing 3-2. A night earlier, he hit a two-run homer in the ninth that wiped out the Astros' one-run lead.
Both of Stubbs' hits came against former teammate Francisco Cordero (3-7).
''That was a huge, clutch hit,'' Baker said of Wednesday's double. ''That was probably even bigger than last night's.''
The Reds sent Houston to its ninth loss in a row, tying a season worst.
Stubbs' double pinged low on the wall in center field to allow Paul and Phillips to score.
''I actually hit that one a lot better than I hit the one last night,'' Stubbs said. ''Luckily we were able to hang on there at the end.''
Jay Bruce added an insurance run with an RBI single later in the ninth.
Cordero has blown both of his save opportunities since joining the Astros in a trade from Toronto on Friday.
Reds starter Homer Bailey scattered four hits with seven strikeouts over seven scoreless innings.
Stubbs, who had seven hits and five RBIs in this series, likes the way the Reds are playing right now.
''It just feels like everything is clicking for us,'' he said. ''If we get down we come back ... and I think that's just the combination of us playing good baseball, getting some lucky bounces and that's the formula to winning a championship. I'm not saying at this point it's going to happen, but that's the type of stuff it takes to do it.''
The Astros had plenty of opportunities to put more runs on the board, but went 2 for 15 with runners in scoring position.
''That was our Achilles' heel today,'' Houston manager Brad Mills said.
Astros starter Bud Norris yielded five hits and a run with seven strikeouts in seven innings. He hasn't won since May 21.
Scott Rolen's RBI single pushed Cincinnati's lead to 2-0 in the eighth.
Devin Mesoraco singled to start the third, advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Bailey and scored on Stubbs' two-out double.
The Reds turned a double play to end the third inning before Bailey retired six of the next seven batters.
Brian Bogusevic singled with one out in the Houston seventh and Carlos Corporan drew a walk. Then with a group of his friends and relatives chanting, ''Homer, Homer,'' Bailey retired the next two Astros to preserve the lead and end his night.
NOTES: Baker kept 2B Phillips out of the starting lineup for rest, then used him in the ninth. ... The Astros recalled reliever Xavier Cedeno from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday. ... Baker said that star first baseman Joey Votto, on the disabled list after arthroscopic knee surgery, is progressing well but that he doesn't have an official timetable for his return. ... The Reds have a day off on Thursday before opening a three-game series at Colorado on Friday. ... Rookie Dallas Keuchel pitches for Houston on Thursday when the Astros open a four-game series with A.J. Burnett and the Pittsburgh Pirates.