Reds vie to bounce back against Astros

Streaking right-hander Bronson Arroyo tries to maintain the Cincinnati lead in the National League Central Division tonight when the Reds take on the Houston Astros in game two of a three-game series at Great American Ball Park.

The Reds, who dropped Friday's opener, nonetheless kept an 8 1/2-game lead in the Central when both St. Louis and Pittsburgh lost. The Pirates are in third place in the division, 10 games off the pace.

Arroyo, a 35-year-old out of Key West, Fla., was 7-7 after a 6-3 loss to Milwaukee on Aug. 6, but has since reeled off four wins in five starts while trimming his earned run average from 4.05 to 3.76.

He's pitched at least six innings in all five starts and eight or more innings twice, including a 3-2 defeat of Philadelphia on Aug. 22.

The 6-foot-4, 196-pounder is 12-7 in 30 career meetings with the Astros, including a no-decision in their last matchup -- and Arroyo's last start -- on Sept. 2, when he allowed a run on three hits in six innings.

The Reds won the game, 5-3.

Houston responds with righty Bud Norris, who tries again to end a winless drought that reaches back to May 21.

The 27-year-old was 5-1 after an 8-4 defeat of the Chicago Cubs, but has since gone 0-10 in 15 starts -- in which Houston is 1-14 -- while his ERA has soared from 3.14 to 4.80.

He's faced Cincinnati twice in that stretch and emerged with a pair of no- decisions, including Sept. 2 against Arroyo, after allowing eight hits and a single run in 13 innings.

Norris is 0-2 lifetime against the Reds with a 4.55 ERA in 31 2/3 innings.

On Friday, Matt Dominguez hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning off Aroldis Chapman and the Astros stunned the Reds, 5-3.

It was the second career home run for Dominguez, who was recalled from Triple- A Oklahoma City on Aug. 30.

Chapman (5-5), meanwhile, suffered his first blown save since June 24. The hard-throwing lefty, who entered Friday with a 0.30 ERA against NL teams, had converted a single-season club record 27 consecutive save opportunities.

"That shows nobody is perfect," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He's been as near perfect as anybody the last few months. It was just one of those nights for him."

Lucas Harrell gave up three runs on seven hits in a six-inning start for the Astros and Hector Ambriz (1-0) recorded the final two outs of the eighth to pick up the win.

Justin Maxwell hit a first-inning, two-run homer in the win. Jose Altuve went 1-for-2 and scored on Maxwell's two-out homer before exiting with a lower abdominal strain.

Homer Bailey got the start for the Reds and allowed two runs on five hits with a walk and nine strikeouts over 6 2/3 frames.

The Reds won nine of the first 12 games between the teams this season, including two of three when they met in Houston from Aug. 31-Sept. 2.

Cincinnati won nine of 15 games against the Astros in 2011.