video thumbnail

HOU@CIN: Lowrie's two-run homer gives Astros 4-2 lead

CINCINNATI -- Astros right-hander Jordan Lyles was oblivious to his future when he took the mound on Sunday. Lyles didn't know how long his stint would be in the Major Leagues. One game? Two? So he came in with a plan, remained focused and delivered a solid six innings for Houston. Unfortunately for Lyles, the Reds rallied against the Astros for a come-from-behind 6-5 win, and shortly after Sunday's game, Lyles learned he was returning to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Jed Lowrie and Matt Downs both homered to stake the Astros to a two-run lead, but the Reds wrecking crew of Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, who hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth off Fernando Rodriguez, lifted Cincinnati to a victory in the finale of a three-game series before 31,086 fans at Great American Ball Park.

"Pretty much went as planned," Lyles said. "I threw the ball over the plate. Command wasn't an issue. I hit the lower part of the strike zone a lot. I threw the ball over the plate and hoped they hit it at someone."

Lowrie hit his second home run of the season, and Downs hit his first. Jose Altuve went 3-for-5 with a double and scored two runs for Houston, which led by two runs twice and didn't trail until Bruce's home run in the eighth.

It was announced following the game that Lyles had been optioned to Triple-A to make room for Marwin Gonzalez, who was reinstated from the paternity list.

Lyles, who was recalled from Triple-A prior to Sunday's game, was in control early, throwing first-pitch strikes to the first seven batters and 16 of the 25 hitters he faced. He didn't allow a hit until Zack Cozart's double leading off the fourth. Lyles walked three and struck out five over 95 pitches.

"I thought he threw the ball extremely well," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "It's hard to ask for anything more."

For a while, it appeared Lyles might be in line for a victory.

Altuve doubled and scored on Lowrie's single to put Houston ahead, 1-0. And the Astros missed a bigger inning when J.D. Martinez flied out to the warning track in center, and Travis Buck was retired on a leaping grab against the wall by Reds center fielder Drew Stubbs.

Lyles came through at the plate as well, helping execute a suicide squeeze in the second when his perfectly placed bunt allowed Chris Johnson to score from third, putting the Astros ahead, 2-0.

Reds starter Mat Latos tied a career high with 10 hits allowed, and gave up five earned runs in 6 1/3 innings.

The Astros played shorthanded offensively. Infielder Brian Bixler was optioned to Triple-A prior to the game, and first baseman Carlos Lee was still unavailable due to his sprained left ankle. To make matters worse, center fielder Jordan Schafer was ejected in the second inning.

Schafer reached on an infield hit in the second inning to extend his streak of reaching base to 22 games to start the season. He was caught stealing moments later, then ejected by second base umpire Marvin Hudson for throwing his helmet. Brian Bogusevic took over in center for Schafer.

"I thought he threw Schafer out real quick," said Mills who came out to discuss the ejection with Hudson.

Schafer refused to comment following the game.

The Reds' first rally came when Cozart's double in the fourth was followed by Votto's 438-foot blast to center on Lyles' first pitch to tie the score, 2-2.

Lowrie put the Astros ahead, 4-2, with a two-run home run to right-center field on a 3-2 pitch from Latos in the fifth.

Cozart's second straight double drove home Ryan Hanigan with the Reds' third run.

Downs hit his first home run since Sept. 26 of last year on a 1-2 pitch from Latos in the sixth. The opposite-field homer put Houston ahead, 5-3.

"I've never seen Downs hit a home run to the opposite field like that," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "Lowrie ... and Altuve were killing us. That's OK. We came back and we won."

For the second time in consecutive at-bats, Votto delivered the game-tying hit, this time with a two-run double down the first-base line off right-hander David Carpenter in the seventh.

"There was a way we wanted to go about pitching [Votto], and we felt Carp was the best guy for the pitching plan we had worked out," Mills said. "He was able to stick his bat out and get it down the line."

"He actually threw a good pitch," said Votto. "I should have made an out. I found a spot. It wasn't a very good swing and I picked the wrong pitch. I got lucky in a way."

The game remained tied until Bruce's solo home run on the first pitch from Rodriguez reached the seats an estimated 381 feet from home plate. Rodriguez took the loss. Sean Marshall pitched a perfect ninth to earn his fifth save for Cincinnati.

MLB.com Comments