Sutton's slam helps Reds' LeCure win major-league debut

CINCINNATI -- Drew Sutton joined in a Cincinnati Reds power surge that's about as good as it gets.

The Houston Astros? Never been worse, not even when they were the Colt .45's.

Sutton hit his first grand slam, part of an emphatic three-homer game by a hot-as-it-gets offense, and Sam LeCure went six innings to win his big-league debut, 15-6 over the historically bad Astros on Friday night.

The Reds maintained a one-game lead over St. Louis in the NL Central, winning for the 22nd time in 31 games. Cincinnati is nine games over .500 for the first time in four years.

The Reds have homered in 17 straight games, tied for the third-longest streak in club history.

"The long balls are fun, but we're getting some great situational hitting, too, and doing things like going from first to third," said Jonny Gomes, who had four hits. "It's a lot more than just homers."

The Astros fell to 16-32 for the first time in franchise history, the worst mark in the NL. Catcher Kevin Cash made his first pitching appearance in the majors, giving up three hits and a run in the eighth to save the bullpen.

"Any loss kind of just keeps piling it up a little bit," Cash said. "At the same time, you can see a big loss like this -- maybe guys come in tomorrow and flip the switch, you never know. You certainly hope to think so. We definitely know we're not playing the way we're capable of, and we need to make some adjustments."

Brandon Phillips and Gomes connected off Wandy Rodriguez (2-7), who gave up a season-high eight runs in 3 1/3 innings. Sutton had a pinch-hit grand slam for a 14-2 lead in the sixth.

Gomes also tripled home a run and singled in another. He missed a shot at the cycle in the seventh, when he singled to left field but was forced to stop at first base because there was a runner ahead of him.

LeCure, a fourth-round pick in 2005, was called up when Homer Bailey went on the disabled list this week with an inflamed pitching shoulder. The right-hander gave up six hits and two runs in six innings.

"You want the young man to get his feet wet and go deep into the ballgame," manager Dusty Baker said. "It helped that we had a high-octane offense."

An offense that's at the top of its game made it easy for him to become an instant winner. The Reds have batted around four times in the last two games. They piled up a season-high 19 hits on Friday.

LeCure got doused on the field and smacked with a plate of shaving cream after the win. The celebration continued inside.

"They made me sit down in the shower in my uniform," LeCure said. "They poured beer on me. I got a fair amount of [shampoo] in my eyes. It was pretty cool."

Phillips hit a solo shot in the first inning, extending the longest homer streak by a big league team this season. The 1956 Reds homered in 21 straight for the club record.

Phillips broke it open with a bases-loaded single in the fourth. Sutton faced reliever Tim Byrdak as a pinch-hitter in the sixth and hit his second career homer off the left-field foul pole.

"It got out of hand in a hurry," Astros manager Brad Mills said.

The foundering Astros revamped their bullpen before the game, adding an extra reliever to help them get through a setback to the rotation. Right-hander Bud Norris got a cortisone shot Friday and went on the 15-day disabled list with a sore pitching arm.

Brian Moehler moves into Norris' spot, Saturday against the Reds. The Astros called up left-handed relievers Gustavo Chacin and Wesley Wright, giving them 13 relievers to back up the hurting rotation.

By the fourth inning, Mills was breaking in the newcomers.

Game notes
Houston has lost its last eight games at Great American Ball Park. ... The Astros sent INF Oswaldo Navarro to Triple-A Round Rock before the game, allowing them to add an extra reliever. ... Reds 1B Joey Votto missed his third consecutive game with a sore neck. ... The Reds have 27 homers during their 17-game power streak. ... Jason LaRue had the Reds' last pinch-hit grand slam, on Sept. 4, 2005 at Atlanta. ... The last Astros position player to pitch was OF John Cangelosi in 1995.