CINCINNATI – Carlos Lee had three hits and Nelson Figueroa took advantage of a Cincinnati lineup missing all of its regulars as the Houston Astros beat the newly crowned NL Central champion Reds 2-0 Wednesday night.
Manager Dusty Baker rested every one of his starting position players on the day after the Reds clinched their first division championship and postseason berth since 1995.
Figueroa (6-4), who had been 0-2 in his previous three starts, capitalized with 6 2-3 shutout innings. He allowed six hits and three walks.
Wilton Lopez relieved with a runner on base and struck out Jay Bruce, whose game-ending home run Tuesday night clinched Cincinnati's division title.
Fernando Abad pitched a perfect eighth and Brandon Lyon allowed a single in the ninth for his 20th save in 22 chances.
Johnny Cueto (12-7) gave up one earned run in seven innings.
Cueto finished with exactly 100 pitches, 64 of them for strikes, in his postseason tuneup. He allowed eight hits, walked none and struck out four. He also was called for a balk while slipping to 0-3 in his last six starts since beating the Cubs on Aug. 27.
The Reds went into the game with the fourth-best record among the five teams that either had clinched playoff berths or were still in contention. They were a game behind San Francisco in the race for the second-best record.
Cincinnati, the league leader in most of the key hitting categories, was shut out for the 13th time this season. The shutout win was Houston's 10th.
The Astros took a 1-0 lead in the first on doubles by former Red Jeff Keppinger and Lee. They widened their lead to 2-0 in the seventh when Lee led off with a single and moved to second on Chris Johnson's sharp one-hopper off Cueto's left ankle. Lee continued to third when rookie first baseman Yonder Alonso fielded the carom and threw the ball away trying to toss the ball behind his back to Cueto. Lee scored on Brett Wallace's grounder.
Notes: Reds RHP Mike Leake is done for the season, Baker said. Cincinnati's top 2009 draft pick hasn't pitched since Aug. 24 because of fatigue in his right shoulder. "There's not enough time for him to get ready," said Baker, adding that Leake will travel with the team. ... Bruce on Tuesday joined Bobby Thomson (Giants, 1951), Hank Aaron (Braves, 1957), Alfonso Soriano (Yankees, 1999) and Steve Finley (Dodgers, 2004) as the only players in major league history to hit a home run that clinched their team's postseason berth, according to Elias Sports Bureau. ... Cincinnati's Laynce Nix, plagued by a sprained left ankle, had two hits in his first start since Aug. 23 in left field.