Probable Starting Pitchers: Houston – Brett Myers (0-0, 1.29) Cincinnati – Sam LeCure (0-0, 0.00)
(Sports Network) – The last time the Cincinnati Reds began a season with this kind of success, they ended it as a world champion.
The National League’s lone remaining unbeaten team will try to extend its record to 6-0 in this afternoon’s finale of a three-game series with a Houston Astros team that’s still in search of its first victory of 2011.
The Reds kept up their early-season exploits with a 12-4 pounding of the struggling Astros on Wednesday, a game in which the defending NL Central champions spotted their opponent a 4-0 lead after one inning. Cincinnati dominated afterward, pounding out a total of 14 hits on the night and keeping Houston off the scoreboard the rest of the way.
Cincinnati scored five times in the bottom of the third to take a 6-4 lead, with Scott Rolen beginning the rally with a two-run double. The Reds got two more runs as a result of a pair of Astros’ errors, and Houston committed five miscues for the game.
“For them that has to be tough for us to come right back at them,” said Reds shortstop Paul Janish. “It was big for us to get out there and have tough at- bats.”
Rolen finished with three RBI, while Janish collected three hits and knocked in a pair of runs to help Cincinnati to its first 5-0 beginning since 1990, a year in which the franchise won its first nine contests en route to a World Series title. Brandon Phillips went 3-for-4 with three runs scored in the rout.
Reds starter Edison Volquez was roughed up for four runs on four hits in the top of the first, but settled down and picked up his first win of the season after lasting five innings. The right-hander gave up just one more hit after the opening frame and struck out eight.
“We couldn’t get anything going after the first,” said Astros outfielder Michael Bourn. “We got to them early, but couldn’t stay on them. That’s the name of the game.”
Nelson Figueroa worked the first 5 1/3 innings for Houston and was tagged for 10 runs, six of which were earned, on 11 hits.
The Astros, who lost three times in Philadelphia to begin the season, have now been outscored by a 41-17 margin during their five-game slide and are off to a brutal start for the second consecutive year. The club dropped its first eight tilts of the 2010 campaign.
Houston will turn to ace Brett Myers in hopes of breaking into the win column this afternoon. The right-hander was outstanding in his season debut, limiting the Phillies to two runs — one earned — and just three hits over seven innings last Friday. He was in line for the victory, but Philadelphia scored three times against the Astros’ bullpen in the bottom of the ninth to pull out a 5-4 decision.
Myers hasn’t had much success pitching at Great American Ball Park, though, having compiled a 1-2 record with a 5.40 earned run average in seven career appearances (five starts) at the venue. In his lone outing there last season, he was rocked for eight runs and 10 hits — including three homers — over 5 2/3 innings of his team’s 9-1 loss.
In 11 lifetime games (nine starts) against the Reds, Myers is 3-3 with a 4.14 ERA.
Cincinnati will hand the ball in the finale to Sam LeCure for the young hurler’s first start of 2011. He pitched a scoreless inning in the Reds’ 7-6 comeback win over Milwaukee on Opening Day, and is filling in the fifth starter’s spot until Homer Bailey recovers from a shoulder injury.
LeCure made six starts and nine relief appearances for the Reds as a rookie last season and went 2-5 with a 4.50 ERA. One of those wins came against the Astros in Cincinnati last May, with the 26-year-old tossing six innings of two- run ball in his major league debut that night.
The Reds have now prevailed in 21 of their 27 most recent meetings with Houston, which is now 2-13 in its last 15 visits to Great American Ball Park.