Travis Wood homers, throws strong six-plus to help Reds past Astros

HOUSTON -- Cincinnati starting pitcher Travis Wood believed he was a good hitter despite an 0 for 11 start at the plate this season.

After hitting a three-run homer on Monday night and pitching shutout ball into the seventh inning to lead the Reds to a 6-1 win over the Astros, he might have proven his case.

"My numbers didn't say so, but I feel comfortable up there with the bat," he said of his work on offense.

Wood led the charge against Houston starter Aneury Rodriguez just five days after the Reds managed just one hit in five scoreless innings against him in his first major league start.

"I think it's easier when you see him the second time," Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said. "The first time, it's in his favor because you don't know much about him. It's a lot easier when you've faced them before and it's even easier when you face them in a short period of time, because it's really fresh in your mind and your memory of what he's doing."

Wood's shot to the Crawford Boxes in left field made it 3-0 in the third inning and Ramon Hernandez pushed the lead to 5-0 with a two-run homer to almost the same spot an inning later.

Brandon Phillips said Wood's work at the plate helped Cincinnati gain confidence against Rodriguez.

"It's crazy seeing our pitcher hit home runs like that," Phillips said. "When he did that, I was like: 'If he can do that, then everybody else can do something good.'"

Wood (2-3) allowed six hits and struck out six with a walk in 6 2/3 innings for his first win since April 2, his first start of the season.

"My pitches were working well and we were able to mix up locations and pitches and keep them off balance for the most part," Wood said. "Defense made some outstanding plays behind me and we were able to put together a good, quality ball game."

Rodriguez (0-1) allowed five runs and eight hits in five innings.

"The first three innings I was really good, but after that, I missed a lot of pitches," Rodriguez said through a translator. "I knew that the pitcher is a good hitter ... I missed the pitch. I was trying to throw it low and inside, but it stayed in the middle high."

He received a no-decision in last week's start against the Reds after closer Brandon Lyon blew the save in a 3-2 Houston loss.

"I think you saw how quickly they jumped on some pitches early in the count or first pitch or second pitch," Houston manager Brad Mills said of Monday's outing. "They weren't letting him get ahead. That was one of the biggest things last week was he was getting ahead."

Hunter Pence tripled in the first and scored Houston's only run with a solo homer in the eighth inning.

The Reds extended the lead to 6-0 with a two-out, RBI single by Drew Stubbs in the sixth inning.

Wood's homer was the second of his career and the first by a Reds pitcher since he hit his first one in September off Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals. A double by Chris Valaika followed by Ryan Hanigan's single set up the three-run homer. Hanigan finished with three hits.

Hernandez's third homer of the season came after Fred Lewis led off the inning with a single to right field.

Wood had retired six straight when Clint Barmes singled with one out in the fifth inning. Pinch hitter Matt Downs singled after that, but Wood retired the next two to end the inning.

He pitched a perfect sixth before he was chased with a single by Angel Sanchez with two outs in the seventh. Wood walked Brett Wallace to start that inning and got some help from Phillips when he robbed Chris Johnson of a hit with a nifty diving catch that ended in a belly flop for the first out.

Reliever Bill Bray gave up a single to Michael Bourn to load the bases before he was replaced by Logan Ondrusek, who retired J.R. Towles to end the inning.

Pence tripled with two outs in the first inning, but Carlos Lee struck out to end that threat.

Cincinnati's Mike Leake, who was moved to the bullpen from the rotation when Homer Bailey came off the disabled list last week, pitched a perfect ninth in his first relief appearance of the season.

Game notes
Houston designated RHP Nelson Figueroa for assignment and recalled LHP Sergio Escalona from Triple-A Oklahoma after the game. ... Baker gave 1B Joey Votto the day off. ... Mills said he expects Lyon's stint on the disabled list to stretch longer than 15 days. He went on the disabled list on Thursday with tendinitis in his biceps and a partial tear in his rotator cuff, which can heal without surgery. Mills said after the swelling subsides, it will take some time for him to build back his arm strength enough to return, but gave no indication of how much longer than 15 days that could take.