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Astros, Reds Hope To Avoid Second Straight Rainout

(Sports Network) – Second-year right-hander Mike Leake goes for a second straight win over the Houston Astros tonight when the Cincinnati Reds host them to open a weather-altered three-game series at Great American Ball Park.

The teams were scheduled to get their series under way Monday night, but the game was postponed by rain. It will be made up at the tail end of the series on Thursday, which had been a scheduled day off for both teams.

The San Diego native made his initial start of 2011 against the Astros on April 5 in Cincinnati and emerged with a win, allowing three hits and two runs over six innings of an 8-2 triumph.

He’s largely made news for off-the-field issues since, following an April 18 arrest for shoplifting six shirts valued at a total of $59.88 from a Macy’s store in Cincinnati.

He pleaded guilty Friday to a reduced charge, and, if he completes counseling and 30 hours of community service, the case will be dropped, and the conviction expunged from his record.

In a press conference Friday, Leake said he had purchased similar shirts two weeks earlier, then took them back to the store to exchange them. But instead of dealing with a clerk, he said he attempted to leave the store with the replacements.

The 23-year-old has won all three of his decisions on the season and has gone seven innings in two outings since the incident, defeating Arizona on April 21 and getting a no-decision in a 3-2 loss to Milwaukee on April 26.

He’s 2-1 in four career starts against Houston with a 2.49 earned run average in 25 1/3 innings.

For the Astros, lefty J.A. Happ tries against to snap out of early season difficulties.

The 28-year-old was 1-1 after his second start of the season – a 7-1 defeat of Florida on April 10 – but has dropped three straight since against San Diego, the New York Mets and St. Louis.

In those games, he’s pitched 16 2/3 innings while allowing 18 hits and 12 runs.

Happ opened his season against Leake and the Reds and allowed seven runs in seven hits in four innings on the short end of the 8-2 verdict.

On Sunday in Cincinnati, Emilio Bonifacio hit a three-run homer and Hanley Ramirez added a two-run shot, as the Florida Marlins clubbed a season-high five homers in taking a 9-5 decision over Cincinnati in the rubber match of a three-game set.

Jay Bruce slugged a two-run homer and Brandon Phillips added a solo shot for the Reds, who have dropped three of five and haven’t won consecutive games since April 11-12 at San Diego.

Bronson Arroyo (3-3) was touched for seven hits and five runs with a pair of walks and fanned three over seven frames.

In Houston, Carlos Lee belted a three-run homer in support of starting pitcher Bud Norris, but wound up leaving Sunday’s 5-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers following a violent collision with teammate Angel Sanchez in the seventh inning.

Lee collided with Sanchez in shallow left field while pursuing a ball hit by Milwaukee’s Mark Kotsay. It appeared the Astros shortstop kneed Lee in the ribs. Lee remained down for several minutes before being removed from the field on a cart. He was then taken to a local hospital to have tests performed on his left ribcage.

Norris (2-1) limited the Brewers to three hits and three walks in 7 2/3 innings. The right-hander also recorded 11 strikeouts, three shy of his career high.

Jason Bourgeois collected two hits and scored a run for Houston, which took two straight after dropping Friday’s series opener.

Cincinnati took two of three from the Astros earlier in the season.

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