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Reds extend HR surge, beat Astros 15-6

CINCINNATI (AP) — Drew Sutton hit his first grand slam, joining one of the longest power surges in Cincinnati Reds history, and Sam LeCure went six innings to win his big-league debut, 15-6 over the historically bad Houston 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 Astros fell to 16-32 for the first time in franchise history. The worst team in the National League had catcher Kevin Cash pitch the ninth to save a weary pitching staff. He gave up three hits and a run.

Brandon Phillips and Jonny 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.

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

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. The four hits tied his career high.

So far, the Reds have enjoyed a generally healthy season. Their first major setback came when right-hander Homer Bailey went on the disabled list this week with an inflamed pitching shoulder. They called up LeCure, a fourth-round pick in 2005. The right-hander gave up six hits and two runs in six innings.

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.

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.

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.

Manager Brad Mills decided to move Brian Moehler into Norris' spot, letting him start 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.

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.