Houston, TX – Johnny Cueto made a successful return while Zack Cozart homered and drove in four runs to lead the Cincinnati Reds past the Houston Astros, 6-1, in the opener of a three-game interleague series.
Cueto (5-2) missed nearly three months with a strained right lat muscle but showed no rust in limiting the Astros to five hits over five scoreless frames.
"I don't have words to describe it. It's something really incredible for me to go that long without pitching, and I came in today and feel really good today," Cueto said through a translator.
Jay Bruce added a two-run single for the Reds, who rebounded from a 2-4 stretch and extended their lead over the Washington Nationals to five games for the NL's second wild card spot.
Erik Bedard (4-11) was saddled with the loss after allowing four runs on four hits over four innings of work in Houston's third straight setback.
"I was throwing a lot of strikes, trying to get ahead and get them out quickly. I started getting tired and gave up some walks," said Bedard.
Cozart launched a Bedard offering just inside the left-field foul pole for a two-run homer in the second frame. Bruce led off the inning with a single.
Two walks and a base hit loaded the bases for Cozart in the fourth, and the shortstop singled to right field to bring in two more runs.
Lucas Harrell relieved Bedard in the fifth and was equally ineffective in the fifth. Again, two walks and a single filled the bags and Bruce hit a dribbler up the middle to drive in Shin-Soo Choo and Brandon Phillips for a 6-0 lead.
Cueto put an exclamation point on his return by striking out Jose Altuve to leave the bases loaded in the fifth.
Alfredo Simon gave up a run behind Cueto, as Trevor Crowe led off the sixth with a double and eventually scored on Matt Dominguez's groundout, but the Astros had just one baserunner over the last three innings to fall short.
Cueto was making his 10th start of the year and first since June 28. He improved to 3-6 in his career against the Astros ... Bedard was back in the rotation after being in the bullpen the previous three weeks ... Harrell allowed just one hit over his final four innings of relief ... Houston went 0- for-5 with a runner in scoring position ... Game time: 2:36.