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Reds send Bailey to hill to face Astros

Native Texan Homer Bailey can establish a personal best for season victories tonight when the Cincinnati Reds host the Houston game series at Great American Ball Park.

The 25-year-old - a first-draft choice in 2004 - set a career high with eight wins in 20 starts in 2009 before dropping to just four victories in 19 starts in an injury-plagued 2010.

He got win No. 8 this season two starts ago in Colorado when he allowed a single run on six hits in 7 2/3 innings of the Reds' 4-1 defeat of the Rockies. One subsequent shot at win No. 9 ended in a no-decision against the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 15.

Bailey last faced the Astros on Aug. 2 in Houston and emerged with a 5-1 win, improving his career mark against them to 3-0 in four starts with a stingy 1.35 earned run average in 26 2/3 innings.

The Astros reply with California-born righty Bud Norris, who's not won since Aug. 17.

The 26-year-old got to 6-8 on the season with a 4-3 defeat of the Cubs in Houston, but is 0-2 in five starts since - including a 1-0 loss to Philadelphia in his most recent outing Sept. 14.

In that game, Norris held the Phillies to just one run on four hits in seven innings with a walk and three strikeouts.

It was the third time in four starts that he's allowed three earned runs or less.

Norris is 0-1 in three career starts against the Reds with a 6.75 ERA.

In Monday's opener, Matt Downs cracked the go-ahead solo home run in the top of the eighth inning, sending the Astros to a 3-2 win in the opener. Downs also added a single while J.D. Martinez picked up two hits and a run scored and Jason Bourgeois added a pair of hits for Houston, which has won back-to-back games.

David Carpenter (1-3) earned the win, throwing a third of an inning in relief, while Mark Melancon worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 19th save of the year.

Brandon Phillips smacked a solo home run and Todd Frazier laced an RBI double for the Reds, losers in four straight games.

Nick Masset (3-6) absorbed the loss after allowing Downs' home run. Logan Ondrusek was tagged with his third blown save.

Cincinnati is 7-6 versus the Astros this season.