Reds' Leake takes ball in meeting with Astros

Mike Leake tries to record a third straight winning start on Tuesday evening as he takes the mound for the playoff-hopeful Cincinnati Reds in the middle contest of a three-game series versus the Houston Astros.

Leake's back-to-back victories have upped his season record to 13-9 with a 3.35 earned run average through 29 starts. He surpassed his previous personal best of 12 victories in 2011 by beating the Chicago Cubs 6-0 on Wednesday.

The righty logged 5 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out six. However, he also yielded four hits and four walks and threw 107 pitches in the outing.

Leake is 5-4 with a 3.76 ERA in 11 career meetings with the Astros, including nine starts. The 25-year-old went 3-1 with a 2.92 ERA in four starts last year.

The Reds made up some ground with Monday's 6-1 win, moving into within 2 1/2 games of St. Louis and Pittsburgh for first place in the NL Central. They also upped their edge over Washington to five games for the league's second wild card spot.

Zack Cozart homered and drove in four runs, while Johnny Cueto returned from his third trip to the disabled list this year to hurl five scoreless frames. He had missed the previous 2 1/2 months because of a strained right lat muscle.

"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 versus the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers.

Erik Bedard was saddled with the loss after allowing four runs on four hits over four innings of work in Houston's third straight setback. The Astros are one defeat away from their third 100-loss season in a row.

"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.

Jordan Lyles gets the call tonight for Houston and is coming off a 13-2 win over Seattle on Tuesday. The righty allowed two runs -- one earned -- on four hits and two walks over six innings.

Lyles has lasted at least six innings in five straight starts and is 7-7 with a 4.92 ERA in 25 games (23 starts) this season.

The 22-year-old is 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA in four career encounters with the Reds, all but one of those starts.

The Reds won 10 of 15 versus the Astros last year in their final season as division rivals, going 7-2 in Houston.