CINCINNATI – Drew Stubbs homered and drove in four runs to help the Cincinnati Reds stay alive in the race for home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a 9-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Thursday night.
Brandon Phillips and Jonny Gomes homered for the Reds and Bronson Arroyo pitched seven solid innings in his playoff tuneup to keep the Central Division champions two games behind San Francisco in the race to finish with the league's second-best record behind Philadelphia. The Reds and Giants both have three games to play.
Phillips smacked a two-run homer, his 18th, and Gomes added a solo shot in the sixth inning to knock Brett Myers (14-8) out of the game before completing the sixth inning for the first time this season.
Myers, who went 5 2-3 innings on Thursday, lasted six or more innings in each of his previous 32 starts, becoming only the fifth major league pitcher since 1920 to last that long in his first 32 starts and the first since Arizona's Curt Schilling went six or more in his first 35 starts of 2002.
Myers, who was 6-0 over his previous nine starts and 9-1 over his previous 16 since June, was roughed up for 10 hits and a season-high eight runs with four walks and seven strikeouts.
Arroyo (17-10), whose previous season career high in wins was 15, retired the last 13 batters after giving up former Red Jeff Keppinger's sixth homer with two outs in the third inning. He allowed four hits and no walks with four strikeouts.
Arroyo will almost certainly pitch Cincinnati's first postseason game since 1995 when the playoffs open next Wednesday and Thursday. Cincinnati's first-round rotation might not be worked out until Sunday, manager Dusty Baker said before Thursday's game.
Jay Bruce led off the second with a single, the first of his three hits, and Stubbs followed with his 22nd homer. He made it 4-1 by driving in two runs with a bases-loaded single in the fifth.
Notes: The Astros went 14-13 in September, the fourth consecutive month they were .500 or better, their longest streak since the 2001 Astros were .500 or better in every month from April through August. ... Houston OF Michael Bourn probably won't play the rest of the season, manager Brad Mills said. Bourn has missed the last 10 games with a strained right oblique. "Michael is better, but he's coming back very slowly," Mills said. "He's one guy we want to be 100 percent before we put him out there. It is looking like the chances are slimmer every day." ... The Reds will finish the season with winning records against every Central Division team except St. Louis.