Jeff Bagwell, left, has hit 30 or more home runs for seven straight seasons for the Astros.
Biggio hit a two-run homer and Bagwell homered twice, driving in
five runs Wednesday night, as the Houston Astros' mainstays led
them to an 11-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. A tired Roy Oswalt (9-5) also had a pair of singles and pitched
six innings to stay unbeaten against the Reds. The right-hander is
4-0 in six career appearances against Cincinnati. An offensive renaissance has carried the Astros to five
victories in their last six games. Houston has averaged 7.5 runs
during the spurt. The third-place Astros trail St. Louis by 7½ games, but are
still hoping to make a charge in the NL Central. The play of Biggio
and Bagwell during the series left them thinking it's possible. "You can't win with only one or two guys,'' Biggio said.
"We've won for four or five years because we've gotten
contributions from everybody.'' Biggio went 8-for-14 and scored five runs in the series, raising
his average to .259. Bagwell went 6-for-13 and drove in six runs,
leaving him with 14 homers and a .265 average. The rest of the lineup followed their lead on Wednesday, setting
up a quick blowout. "It usually takes me a while to come around,'' said Bagwell,
who hasn't fully recovered from shoulder surgery last October.
"Unfortunately, it's taken me longer to come around. And I'm not
saying I've come around yet. Things are going to be a battle for me
this year.'' The Astros had a lot of help as they scored 11 runs for the
first time since May 13. The Reds committed three errors, leading
to nine unearned runs. Chris Reitsma (3-7) couldn't handle a soft grounder during a
three-run third inning, and a throwing error by second baseman Todd
Walker led to four unearned runs as the Astros pulled ahead 9-2 in
the fourth. Reitsma is 0-7 in his last eight starts with a 4.37 ERA. The
right-hander has given up three or fewer runs in four of those
games, but the Reds haven't scored many behind him. After leading the NL Central for 51 days, the Reds have fallen
into second place in the NL Central by falling on hard times at
home. They've lost 13 of their last 18 at Cinergy Field, where
they're 20-21 overall. Last season, the Reds lost a franchise-record 54 games at home. Houston took two of three in the series by piling up the homers.
Lance Berkman hit two on Tuesday night, accounting for five runs in
a 6-5, 10-inning victory. Berkman was limited to a sacrifice fly Wednesday night, but the
hitters around him did most of the damage. The Astros loaded the bases in the third with the help of
Oswalt's bunt single that eluded Reitsma. The right-hander then
failed to make a barehanded pickup of Biggio's soft grounder in
front of the plate, letting in a run on what was initially ruled a
single but later changed to an error. "I put this game on my shoulders,'' Reitsma said. "That was
just an error. I was charging and I'm thinking we're going to get
two here. That was just a physical and mental mistake on my part.'' After Berkman's sacrifice fly to the warning track, Bagwell hit
a three-run homer for a 5-1 lead, prompting Reitsma to drop his
head and bend down in frustration. Biggio's seventh homer capped a four-run rally in the fourth
that was set up by Walker's throwing error, and Bagwell led off the
fifth with a homer off Luke Hudson to make it 10-2. Bagwell added a
run-scoring single in the sixth for his season-high fifth RBI. It was Bagwell's second multihomer game of the season -- he also
hit two on May 3. Oswalt wasn't overpowering, but forced the Reds to squeeze out
one run at a time. He gave up eight hits and four runs in six
innings, throwing 111 pitches on a sapping 94-degree evening.
"In the second or third inning, I didn't know if I could make
it to the fifth or not,'' Oswalt said. "I felt pretty good in the
bullpen, but I didn't have any energy all game. I was tired from
Astros RHP T.J. Mathews will start a rehabilitation
assignment on Friday with Triple-A New Orleans. Mathews went on the
15-day DL on May 3 with strained biceps in his pitching arm. ...
RHP Nelson Cruz will make his eighth career start Saturday in place
of LHP Carlos Hernandez, who went on the 15-day disabled list. Cruz
has made one start and 20 relief appearances this season, going 0-4
with a 4.62 ERA. ... Bagwell's homers gave him 363 for his career.
... Ken Griffey Jr. took batting practice before the game. Griffey,
disabled by a pulled hamstring, isn't eligible to return to the
Reds until after the All-Star game.