Votto, Reds hand Astros 8th straight loss

HOUSTON (AP) — Brandon Phillips watched teammate after teammate homer in the first five innings Saturday night and lamented his 0-for-3 start.

Cincinnati’s All-Star second baseman was able to make up for it after his team blew a big lead and needed his help to rally for the win.

Drew Stubbs homered and drove in four runs, Phillips added three RBIs and the Reds outlasted Houston 12-9 to hand the Astros their eighth straight defeat.

Joey Votto went 4 for 4 with a home run and a walk. Todd Frazier and Ryan Ludwick also went deep for the Reds, who set a season high for runs. Phillips doubled in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning and added two RBIs in the eighth.

“I saw everybody getting their ball on, hitting home runs and getting hits and I’m over here just putting my head down back in the dugout,” Phillips said of the first few innings. “I just tried to keep my head up and hopefully when I got a situation to concentrate even more so that I could help the team win. And it happened.”

The Reds were up 8-2 after hitting three homers off starter Wandy Rodriguez in the first two innings.

“I missed a lot of my locations,” he said. “It’s hard to pitch when you feel like I felt today.”

Houston closed the gap with a three-run third and went on top by adding four in the fourth.

“That club over there, they don’t quit,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “They keep battling and fighting. They may not be winning, but they’re still playing hard. When you come in here you’re going to have to fight.”

Ludwick’s solo homer tied it in the fifth.

Votto hit a two-out single in the sixth before scoring on the double by Phillips, which dropped in front of a diving Fernando Martinez in right field and put Cincinnati up 10-9.

“I put the beginning of the game behind me and I came up for the team,” Phillips said. “So it turned out to be a great day.”

The win put the NL Central-leading Reds (30-22) a season-high eight games over .500 and extended Houston’s longest losing streak of the year.

Baker was impressed with the way his team responded after losing the early lead.

“You know you’re going to have to win games like that,” he said. “Especially if you’re going to go a long ways, you’ve got to figure out how to win them and we did.”

Houston intentionally walked Votto to load the bases and bring up Phillips with one out in the eighth. He hit a line-drive single to right field to add a pair of insurance runs.

J.D. Martinez drove in three runs for Houston and Jed Lowrie had a two-run homer in the first inning.

Rodriguez yielded nine hits and a season-high nine runs in five innings. Fernando Rodriguez (1-6) allowed two hits and a run in the sixth.

Sam LeCure (1-1) worked two scoreless innings for the win and Aroldis Chapman got his fifth save.

Zack Cozart and Stubbs hit consecutive doubles to start the game and give the Reds a 1-0 lead. Votto followed with a homer to right field that made it 3-0.

Jose Altuve hit a one-out single before Lowrie’s ninth home run got Houston within 3-2 in the bottom of the first.

Frazier opened the second inning with his homer to left field to push the lead to 4-2. Ryan Hanigan walked and Cozart reached on an error with one out. The home run by Stubbs came next to make it 7-2.

Votto singled after that before scoring on a two-out single by Chris Heisey.

Altuve reached on an error with one out in the third before a double by Lowrie. Altuve scored on a groundout by J.D. Martinez before Chris Johnson drew a two-out walk. A double by Fernando Martinez drove in two to cut Cincinnati’s lead to 8-5. The hit bounced off the wall in left field near the yellow line and was reviewed, but the original call was upheld.

Reds starter Mat Latos finally got out of the inning when Matt Downs grounded out.

Latos allowed seven hits and seven runs — four earned — in a season-low 3 1-3 innings.

Jason Castro doubled in the fourth and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Wandy Rodriguez. Jordan Schafer’s RBI single chased Latos and got Houston within 8-6. He was replaced by J.J. Hoover, who allowed a single by Altuve and walked Lowrie to load the bases.

J.D. Martinez’s single sent Schafer and Altuve home and tied it 8-all. Stubbs’ throw to third was offline and Lowrie tried to score, but was thrown out by Frazier.

Johnson’s single, which fell just in front of Heisey, scored J.D. Martinez and gave Houston its first lead. But the Astros didn’t stay on top for long — Ludwick’s shot to start the fifth tied it at 9.

NOTES: Houston optioned INF Matt Downs to Triple-A Oklahoma City after the game and recalled starting pitcher Jordan Lyles, who will start Sunday against Bronson Arroyo. … The Astros placed OF Travis Buck on the 15-day disabled list with right Achilles tendinitis and called up OF Fernando Martinez from Oklahoma City. Buck’s time on the DL is backdated to Friday. … Houston manager Brad Mills said 1B Carlos Lee is day to day after straining his left hamstring Friday night. Mills said he was concerned about the injury, but the team would wait to see if Lee is better in a couple of days.