(Sports Network) - Rookie Mike Leake can finish off a series sweep and keep the Cincinnati Reds in first place this afternoon when they close out a three- game set with the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
The Reds lead the National League's Central Division by a half-game over St. Louis after a 7-0 defeat of Houston on Saturday. The Cardinals dropped their second straight, 6-5, to the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.
Johnny Cueto dealt eight scoreless innings and Joey Votto slugged his league- leading 25th home run in Cincinnati's win.
Cueto (10-2) allowed four hits while walking one and striking out six for the Reds, which has won all five of its games this season in Houston. Jordan Smith finished the shutout by retiring the Astros without incident 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.
Leake, who skipped from Arizona State to the big leagues this spring, has faced the Astros twice this season while recording an April 28 win in Houston and a no-decision on May 30 in Cincinnati. In those two starts, he's combined to allow 12 hits and a run in 13 innings while walking five and striking out eight.
He was 5-0 on the season before a 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 16, and has recovered to go 2-0 in five starts since - including an 8-7 win over Washington on July 20.
The 22-year-old from San Diego is 3-0 in seven road starts.
Houston's Wandy Rodriguez faced the Reds in a May 28 start in Cincinnati and was a 15-6 loser after being raked for eight hits and eight runs in 3 1/3 innings. He's 6-7 in 17 starts against Cincinnati with a 4.52 earned run average.
Rodriguez was a wobbly 3-10 after a 9-3 loss to Texas in a June 18 interleague matchup in Houston, but has won four times in five starts since - including an 11-5 defeat of the Cubs in Chicago on Monday.
The 31-year-old is 4-5 at Minute Maid Park this season.