Astros 5, Reds 3

After allowing a combined 14 first-inning runs in their last

four losses, the Houston Astros were determined to get out of the

opening inning on Sunday without falling behind.

Jordan Lyles let them do just that, keeping the Reds hitless

until the third and going seven strong innings to lead the Astros

to a 5-3 win over Cincinnati.

Justin Maxwell had a two-run homer to help the Astros snap a

season-worst eight-game skid.

”It’s not easy (when you) give another major league team a

three or four spot in the first inning,” Lyles said. ”I had to

really bear down from the get-go and not try to hold anything back

or save anything. My main focus was to get through that first

inning.”

Zack Cozart hit a two-run homer off Lyles in the third inning,

but the Reds couldn’t get anything else going against the 21 year

old.

He allowed five hits and struck out three in his longest start

of the year. It’s the first win of the season for Lyles (1-1) and

his first since last Aug. 20.

”What an effort from Jordan Lyles. That was absolutely

outstanding,” Houston manager Brad Mills said. ”He came right out

and shut that down and started making pitches right away.”

He has made five starts for Houston, but spent most of the

season in Triple-A. Brett Myers pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 13th

save.

Mills said Lyles will remain with the team and become a regular

part of the rotation. He hopes that will help him improve.

”It can give a calming effect to him maybe, some consistency

knowing he’s going to get another start,” Mills said.

The Astros trailed by one in the fifth inning before an RBI

single by Marwin Gonzalez and a sacrifice fly by Jordan Schafer

made it 3-2.

Maxwell’s homer to the Crawford Boxes in left field came in the

seventh inning and chased Reds starter Bronson Arroyo (2-4). It was

his major league-leading third pinch-hit homer this year and

extended Houston’s lead to 5-2.

Arroyo yielded a season-high five earned runs on eight hits in 6

1-3 innings to remain winless since May 7.

”They ran a bunch of guys out there that I didn’t know a whole

lot about,” Arroyo said. ”It was a battle where I made some good

pitches and some bad pitches, but it just winded up being too many

runs to overcome.”

Todd Frazier doubled to start the eighth inning and a single by

Cozart left Frazier at third. Joey Votto’s sacrifice fly with one

out got Cincinnati to 5-3. Schafer had to sprint to make the catch

on that play right at the wall in center field.

”That really could have started stirring things around if that

ball would have fell in,” Mills said. ”That was just a great

catch.”

An error on that play allowed Cozart to advance to third, but

Brandon Phillips grounded out to end the threat.

Chris Johnson walked with one out before a single by Brett

Wallace left runners at the corners for Houston in the second

inning. Johnson scored on a sacrifice fly by Jason Castro to make

it 1-0.

The Reds didn’t get a hit until Arroyo’s single with two outs in

the third. Cozart’s homer to left field came next to put Cincinnati

up 2-1.

Lyles got back on track after that, and the Reds didn’t threaten

again until the sixth inning. Drew Stubbs singled with one out

before Phillips drew a two out walk. But Lyles retired Jay Bruce to

end the inning.

Wallace collected his second single in the fifth inning before a

single by Castro sent him to third. Gonzalez’s single to center

field scored Wallace to tie it at 2.

A sacrifice bunt by Lyles advanced the runners to second and

third and Houston took the 3-2 lead when Castro scored on the

sacrifice fly by Schafer.

Phillips put on a defensive show in the fourth inning with two

nifty plays. The first came when he snagged a grounder by J.D.

Martinez and twirled around to make the throw to first base. He

then robbed Johnson of a hit when he stretched out for a diving

catch to end the inning.

NOTES: Houston placed 1B Carlos Lee on the 15-day disabled list

because of a left hamstring strain and recalled Wallace from

Triple-A Oklahoma City before Sunday’s game. It’s just the second

time in his career that the 35-year-old Lee has been on the

disabled list. He was injured running to first base on Friday

night. … Both teams are off on Monday before Houston opens a

series against St. Louis and Cincinnati hosts Pittsburgh on

Tuesday.