Published September 02, 2012
| Sports Network
Red-hot veteran righty Bronson Arroyo seeks a fifth consecutive victory Sunday when his Cincinnati Reds head back to Minute Maid Park to finish off a three-game series with the Houston Astros.
A 12-time winner in 29 previous meetings with the Astros, Arroyo last faced them on June 3 in Houston and took a 5-3 loss after allowing eight hits and five runs in 6 1/3 innings.
He's won eight of 11 decisions in 14 starts since - including four straight - while climbing to double-digit wins for the seventh time since breaking into the majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2000.
In his last four starts - against the Chicago Cubs (twice), Philadelphia and Arizona - Arroyo has combined to surrender nine runs on 22 hits in 28 1/3 innings, trimming his earned run average from 4.05 to 3.84.
He is 8-5 in 15 road outings this season while allowing a .239 batting average.
Houston replies with righty Bud Norris, who remains winless in 15 starts since May 21.
The 27-year-old Californian improved to 5-1 on the season with an 8-4 defeat of the Cubs back then, but has since tumbled to 5-11 while losing 10 straight decisions in a stretch where the Astros have gone 1-14 with him on the mound.
He pitched seven innings of one-run ball against the Reds in start No. 9 of the 15-start drought, emerging with a no-decision in a game Houston ultimately lost, 5-3.
Norris is 0-2 with a 5.61 ERA in five career starts against Cincinnati.
In nine home starts this season, he's 3-1 with a 2.09 ERA in 60 1/3 innings.
On Saturday, Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips was ejected in the eighth inning for arguing a checked-swing third strike.
His replacement, Wilson Valdez, let a potential victory slip right under his glove as the Astros edged the Reds, 2-1.
Pinch-hitting for Fernando Martinez in the ninth inning, Matt Downs banged a two-out double off the wall in left field off Sean Marshall (4-5) before Matt Dominguez was intentionally walked and pinch-hitter Brandon Barnes was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Jose Altuve then hit a slow roller to second, but it got by Valdez, and Downs came home for the winning run.
"That's every ballplayer's nightmare right there," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Wilson is a very sure-handed fielder."
Wilton Lopez (6-3) picked up the win after getting the final two outs in the top of the ninth for Houston, which snapped a six-game skid.
Prior to the final frame, Reds starter Homer Bailey and the Astros' Lucas Harrell engaged in a pitchers' duel. Bailey fanned nine and surrendered a run on three hits and one walk over eight innings, while Harrell allowed a run on seven hits and a walk in seven frames.
The Reds won seven of the first nine games between the teams in 2012, including a sweep of a three-game series in Houston from July 23-25. The Reds won the 2011 season series, nine games to six.