Reds turn to Arroyo aiming to extend Astros' struggles

The Reds' Bronson Arroyo is winless over his past four starts, but today he gets a chance to end that slide against a team that hasn't won in over a week as Cincinnati concludes a three-game series against the sinking Houston Astros.

Arroyo is 0-2 with a 5.01 earned run average since his last victory on May 7 and had trouble putting the Pirates away in Monday's 4-1 loss. The right- hander gave up four runs on eight hits over just four innings of work and all four runs allowed came with two outs.

The 35-year-old fell to 2-3 with a 3.59 earned run average in 10 starts this season.

"Bronson had a rough day today," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He didn't have a real out pitch today. Nothing was really working or sharp. We still had some action, but we just didn't come though at the right time."

Arroyo went 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA in two starts versus the Astros last year and is six games over .500 against them in his career, going 12-6 with a 4.14 ERA in 28 games (22 starts).

The Reds will try to beat the Astros in a fifth straight game today behind Arroyo after coming through with a wild 12-9 win in Houston on Saturday.

Joey Votto, Todd Frazier and Drew Stubbs all homered in the first two innings for the Reds to help them build an 8-2 lead, but the Astros battled back and led 9-8 after the fourth.

However, Ryan Ludwick evened the game with a solo homer in the fifth and Brandon Phillips put Cincinnati ahead for good with an RBI double in the following frame.

Phillips drove in three runs total on two hits, while Votto finished 4-for-4 with three runs scored.

Cincinnati won for the 11th time in its last 14 games and stretched its lead atop the National League Central to 3 1/2 games, its largest advantage of the season.

J.D. Martinez totaled two hits and three RBI, Jed Lowrie added a two-run blast and Fernando Martinez drove in a pair of runs for the Astros, losers of eight in a row.

"It's almost unacceptable to lose this many games in a row," Astros third baseman Chris Johnson told his team's official website. "We've got to go out there and rip. We can't hope for a win, we have to go out there and take a win and do it as soon as possible. You have to do everything at 100 percent."

One player not at 100 percent is first baseman Carlos Lee, who sat out yesterday's loss after straining his left hamstring in Friday's opener. He isn't expected to play today either.

Though the Reds have won six of their past seven versus the Astros, they haven't swept the club since taking all three meetings of a series in Houston on April 27-29, 2010.

The Astros will look to avoid the sweep behind Jordan Lyles, who once again returns to the big league club to make the start.

Lyles was recalled from the minors as an extra arm for Monday's doubleheader in Colorado. He started the nightcap and allowed six runs -- four earned -- on six hits and two walks over five innings of a no-decision. He was then sent back to Triple-A on Tuesday, but summoned once again following last night's setback.

The 21-year-old righty has gone 5-0 with a 3.54 ERA in seven starts at Triple- A this season, but 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA in four starts with the Astros. One of those came against the Reds on April 29 and he did not factor into a 6-5 loss after yielding three runs on four hits and three walks over six frames.