Astros-Reds Preview

With their cleanup hitter sidelined, the Houston Astros moved

Brett Wallace up in the lineup the last time they took the

field.

The surging 24-year-old first baseman didn’t disappoint.

Wallace looks to continue his hot hitting as the visiting Astros

try for a season-best fourth consecutive victory Wednesday against

the Cincinnati Reds.

Houston (12-17) took two straight from Milwaukee over the

weekend while allowing a total of one run but used an offensive

outburst to win 10-4 in Tuesday night’s series opener.

Wallace, who had hit fifth for most of the season, was moved up

as Carlos Lee was held out due to a rib injury. The young slugger

went 2 for 5 with a home run as Houston recorded its highest run

total on the road. Lee’s status for this game is unknown.

Wallace is batting .523 in his last 12 games, and his .383

average ranks among the top five in the majors.

“I think the biggest thing is you have to get a good pitch to

hit and put a good swing on it and put it in play and try to drive

guys in when you have the opportunity,” Wallace told the Astros’

official website.

“For me, it’s the same thing. Whether I’m hitting fourth, fifth,

sixth or seventh, it doesn’t matter. I just I have to go up there

with a game plan and stick to it and help the team win.”

Michael Bourn, who went 1 for 5 Tuesday, is batting .444 over a

seven-game hitting streak against the Reds. Jason Bourgeois

collected three hits to increase his average to .588 in his last

five games.

“You have two guys that could easily be .300 hitters that when

they get on base is potentially a triple every time,” said Hunter

Pence, enjoying a seven-game hitting streak of his own. “It really

is a dangerous weapon having that 1-2, and something I don’t

(think) any other (team) can come close to.”

Houston’s starters have recorded a 1.64 ERA during the

three-game run. Rookie Aneury Rodriguez (0-0, 6.75) is scheduled to

take the mound Wednesday for his first major league start.

Rodriguez, who started 131 games in Tampa Bay’s minor league

system from 2005-10, will take Nelson Figueroa’s spot in the

rotation.

“I’m excited because I was a starter for five years and I like

it better because I have more time for preparation,” said the

23-year-old right hander, who is expected to throw around 80

pitches.

Rodriguez will look to add to Cincinnati’s recent woes at home.

The Reds (14-15) are below .500 for the first time since May 7 of

last season thanks largely to a 3-9 stretch at Great American Ball

Park.

“Where I come from, it’s OK to get down as long as you don’t

stay down,” manager Dusty Baker said. “That’s the secret. Everybody

gets down. The key is not staying down.”

If his recent efforts are any indication, Travis Wood (1-3,

6.82) doesn’t seem likely to stop the Reds’ struggles.

Wood allowed a season-worst seven runs and eight hits in 3 1-3

innings of a 7-6 loss to Florida on Friday, dropping him to 0-3

with an 8.39 ERA in five starts since winning his season debut.

The left-hander, who has lost his two most recent home outings

while recording a 17.55 ERA, is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in two career

starts against Houston.