Astros ride six-run fourth inning past Reds

CINCINNATI -- J.A. Happ has turned into a tough out at the bottom of the Houston Astros' lineup.

The left-hander singled home a run during Houston's six-run fourth inning -- its biggest of the season -- and the Astros beat the Reds 10-4 on Tuesday night, leaving Cincinnati with its first losing record in nearly a year.

Happ was only 4-for-77 for his career (.052) heading into this season. In six starts, he's gone 5-for-10 with three RBIs, part of an impressive showing at the plate by the Astros' staff. Houston's pitchers lead the majors with a .291 average.

"It's just trying to make contact, trying to be aggressive, I guess," Happ said. "I don't know. The ball's falling for me."

On Tuesday, the ball fell for just about everyone in the Astros' lineup, setting up a long night for the defending NL Central champions. The Reds fell to 14-15, the first time they've been below .500 since they had an identical mark last May 7.

Owner Bob Castellini visited manager Dusty Baker's office after the game, offering encouragement.

"He was talking to me, telling me to keep my head up," Baker said. "Where I come from, it's OK to get down as long as you don't stay down. That's the secret. Everybody gets down. The key is not staying down."

The Astros sent 10 batters to the plate in the fourth, knocking Mike Leake (3-1) out of the game. It was the right-hander's first start since he settled his shoplifting case.

Happ (2-4) ended a personal streak of three straight losses, which matched the longest of his career. He went 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs.

"To be honest, I felt that was the best stuff I've had all year," Happ said.

Chris Johnson and Brett Wallace had solo homers for the Astros, who evened their season series at two games apiece. Wallace extended his hitting streak to 11 games, a career high. Hunter Pence extended his hitting streak to a season-high seven games.

Once the Astros' offense got rolling, everyone played a part.

"It was awesome to see that," said Wallace, who hit his second homer. "Happ did a good job keeping us in there early and gave us a chance to get that lead."

No one was surprised when Happ knocked in a run, too.

"He's definitely one of the better hitters on our team right now," said Johnson, who hit his third homer. "All of our pitchers are having really good at-bats. That's all we can ask from them."

Both starters got an extra day of rest when the opening game of the series was postponed by rain on Monday night. Happ handled the adjustment better. His showing was a huge improvement over his other start in Cincinnati this season, an 8-2 loss on April 5, when he struggled to throw strikes.

The Astros' offense had a big night despite missing outfielder Carlos Lee, who bruised the left side of his ribcage in a collision with shortstop Angel Sanchez on Sunday. Lee rejoined the team after getting tests at a hospital that found no fracture. He's limited to getting treatment.

His replacement in the lineup came through. Jason Bourgeois' two-run double off reliever Jordan Smith completed the six-run fourth inning and made it 7-1. Bourgeois had a single and a pair of doubles, leaving him 10-for-17 in the last seven games.

Leake had his roughest game of the season, giving up seven runs -- matching his career high -- in only 3 2/3 innings. The 23-year-old pitcher settled his shoplifting case last Friday, pleading to a lesser charge of unauthorized use of property. He was sentenced to community service.

Game notes
Astros infielder Joe Inglett cleared waivers and accepted his assignment to Triple-A Oklahoma City. ... Outfielder Jason Michaels will hit for a few days before starting a rehab assignment in the minors. Michaels separated his left shoulder on April 24 and went on the 15-day DL. ... Joey Votto has reached base safely in all 29 Reds games this season, five shy of Dave Collins' modern-day club record from 1981. Votto and Milwaukee's Ryan Braun are the only major leaguers who have reached safely in every game this season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... Second baseman Brandon Phillips fielded Bourgeois' slow roller with his bare hand and flipped it between his legs to first base to get the out in the third inning. ... The Reds are planning to bring right-hander Johnny Cueto off the DL for a game Sunday in Chicago.