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Astros Try For First Win Against Undefeated Reds

(Sports Network) - Lefty J.A. Happ returns to the rotation following an opening weekend scratch when the Houston Astros visit Great American Ball Park for the opener of a three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds.

Happ, acquired by the Astros last July in the deal that sent Roy Oswalt to Philadelphia, was scrubbed from Sunday's scheduled start against the Phillies after suffering a right oblique muscle strain.

He threw a bullpen session later Sunday and was re-slotted to face the Reds, against whom he allowed six hits and three runs in seven innings of a no- decision in the Phillies' 4-3 loss on July 7, 2009 in Philadelphia.

Happ won a career-high 12 games with the Phillies in 2009 and made three starts with them - going 1-0 with a 1.76 earned run average - last season before the deadline trade.

In 13 subsequent starts with the Astros, he was 5-4 with one complete game and a 3.75 ERA in 72 innings.

Over 289 career big-league innings, Happ has allowed a .241 batting average.

The Reds counter with 23-year-old righty Mike Leake, who'll face Houston for the fourth time to start his second major league season.

The eighth overall pick of the 2009 draft made headlines last year by becoming one of the few pitchers in history to go from college to the majors with no minor-league appearances. Leake ended his rookie season with an 8-4 record and a 4.23 ERA in 138 1/3 innings and allowed a .292 batting average with 91 strikeouts.

Leake was 1-1 with a 2.33 ERA against the Astros, allowing 19 hits and five runs in 19 1/3 innings.

On Sunday in Cincinnati, Ryan Hanigan tied a career-high with four hits, including a pair of homers and four runs batted in, as the Reds routed the Milwaukee Brewers, 12-3, to complete the three-game sweep.

Hanigan hit a three-run and a solo homer, while Brandon Phillips added three hits, including a three-run shot for Cincinnati, which is off to a 3-0 for the first time since 2005.

Bronson Arroyo (1-0) went seven strong innings, yielding three runs on six hits with five strikeouts. He also went 1-for-2 with a double. The 34-year-old right-hander went 17-10 with a 3.88 earned run average in 33 starts over 215 2/3 innings last season.

In Philadelphia, Ryan Howard drove in four runs and Oswalt tossed six solid innings in his first start against his former team, as the Phillies beat the Astros, 7-3, to complete an opening three-game sweep at Citizens Bank Park.

Houston's Bud Norris (0-1) replaced Happ and allowed five runs on six hits over four innings.

Cincinnati was 10-5 last season against the Astros.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.