Reds Hammer Astros 7-0

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Reds Capitalize On Hot Start, Take Down 'Stros 7-0

Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Johnny Cueto dealt eight scoreless innings, and Joey Votto slugged his league-leading 25th home run in Cincinnati's 7-0 win over Houston in the middle installment of a three-game set.

Cueto (10-2) allowed four hits while walking one and striking out six for Cincinnati, which has won all five of its games this season in Houston. Jordan Smith finished the shutout by retiring the Astros in turn in the ninth.

Votto slugged a two-run home run in the first inning and finished 2-for-4, while Orlando Cabrera had three hits and scored twice and Laynce Nix added three hits and a pair of runs driven in.

Roy Oswalt (6-12) suffered a rare defeat to the Reds after yielding six runs on nine hits over five frames during which he walked one and struck out three for the Astros, who have dropped three of their last four.

Oswalt, the subject of trade speculation as the deadline looms seven days away, was denied for a second straight start a win that would have tied him with Joe Niekro for the franchise's all-time lead with 144.

Votto's opposite field blast into the Crawford Boxes in left field put the Reds ahead three batters into the game.

Ramon Hernandez led off the second with a long home run to left, his first since June 21, to make it 3-0 in favor of the visitors.

Cabrera and Votto opened the third with singles and scored when Nix lashed a double into right-center. Nix advanced to third on a deep fly out and scored on a two-out single by Hernandez, who was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.

The Astros had only one runner advance to second base through seven innings before putting together a mild threat in the eighth.

Chris Johnson singled and reached second base on a fielding error by Cabrera on a throw from Brandon Phillips, who fielded a Jason Castro grounder and tried to start a double play. However, Cueto got pinch-hitter Jason Bourgeois to pop up, froze Michael Bourn on a called third strike and induced Sanchez to ground out to end the inning and his performance.

Chris Heisey hit his fourth pinch-hit home run of the season off Chris Sampson in the ninth to account for the final margin.

Oswalt had never allowed more than four earned runs in 31 career starts against Cincinnati before Saturday night...He is 23-3 in his career against the Reds but has lost his two starts to them this season and has not beaten them since September 25, 2008...Oswalt made his 303rd career appearance to move past Octavio Dotel into eighth place on the Astros all-time list. Houston has scored 10 runs in 69 innings while Oswalt has been on the mound in his 12 defeats...Cueto beat the Astros for the first time in his career...He had lost his first four decisions to them, including three in Houston...The Reds lead the season series, 7-1...Hernandez has hit three home runs this season against Houston, the other two coming on May 29...Cincinnati improved to 32-11 when scoring first.

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Preview: Cincinnati Reds (54-44) at Houston Astros (39-57), 6:05 PM CDT

(Sports Network) - Veteran right-hander Rot Oswalt makes what could be one of the last starts of his Houston career tonight when the Astros meet the Cincinnati Reds in the middle test of a three-game series at Minute Maid Park.

Oswalt, a Houston fixture since the Astros picked him in the 23rd round of the 1996 draft, has been the subject of rampant trade rumors in recent days, with reported suitors including the St. Louis CardinalsPhiladelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers.

The two-time 20-game winner and eight-time double-digit winner has slumped to just six wins in 17 decisions with a subpar Houston team this season, but is said to be close to the form that earned him 17 victories as recently as 2008.

He's consistently shown that form in a remarkable career against the Reds, winning 23 times in 25 decisions, while posting a 2.62 earned run average against Cincinnati across 213 innings.

The Reds did hand him a tough-luck loss in their last get-together, touching him for eight hits and three runs in seven innings while winning a 4-2 verdict on April 29 in Cincinnati.

Oswalt is 4-8 in 14 starts since, including a 9-0 loss at Pittsburgh on July 18. His last win came against the Pirates in Houston on July 8, in the form of a one-hitter with eight strikeouts in the Astros' 2-0 triumph.

He is 2-8 in 11 starts this season at Minute Maid Park.

For the Reds, third-year Dominican Johnny Cueto aims for his 10th win in just his 20th start of 2010. The 24-year-old righty was a nine-game winner in 31 starts as a rookie in 2008, then won 11 times in 30 starts last season.

He got to nine wins this season in his last start on July 19, allowing four hits and two runs in six innings of a 7-2 defeat of Washington.

In seven career games against the Astros, however, Cueto is 0-4 with a 5.22 ERA in 39 2/3 innings. Conversely, he's 4-1 on the road this year in 10 outings.

On Friday, Jay Bruce doubled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning to lift the Reds to a 6-4 win.

Joey Votto was 3-for-4 with a home run, walked and scored one of his two runs on Bruce's double. Ryan Hanigan had a two-run single and Bruce ended with two RBI as the Reds bounced back from dropping the final two games of a four-game set with Washington.

Francisco Cordero put the tying run on base in the ninth but stranded a pair by getting Hunter Pence to line out to center to end the game and earn his 27th save. Logan Ondrusek (1-0) picked up his first major-league win for tossing a scoreless inning of relief.

Pence was 4-for-5, hit a game-tying two-run homer in the sixth, scored twice and drove in three for Houston, which was coming off a 3-3 road trip.

Tim Byrdak (1-1) had gone 19 appearances without allowing a run but took the loss after surrendering two on three hits without recording an out.

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