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CIN@HOU: Renteria pounds a grand slam to left field

HOUSTON -- Homer Bailey showed again on Tuesday that he truly loves pitching deep in the heart of Texas.

Recovering well from a career-worst performance five days ago, Bailey turned in a season-high eight innings. Edgar Renteria's fifth-inning grand slam rewarded him for his effort, as the Reds earned a 5-1 victory over the Astros.

Born and raised about 100 miles away in LaGrange, Tex., Bailey has a 0.60 ERA in two starts at Minute Maid Park this season. In four career starts against the Astros, he is 3-0 with a 1.30 ERA.

"I was hoping him pitching in front of the home folks here and some of mama's home cooking was going to help him," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "He threw a great ballgame."

Bailey left tickets for over 30 members of his family and friends. Throwing first-pitch strikes to 21 of his 31 batters, he gave up one run and five hits with three walks and four strikeouts.

"I get to see my family, and I don't get to see them much," Bailey said. "My grandmother was at the game, cousins, aunts, uncles and everybody else. It's just the comforts of being back home."

With the Reds desperate to stay in the National League Central race and coming off a heartbreaking 10-inning loss to Houston on Monday, they will take any good outcome, anywhere. Cincinnati (54-56) has won four of its last five games and is 6 1/2 games behind the first-place Brewers.

Bailey was the right guy to neutralize Astros lefty Wandy Rodriguez, whose team won the last five games he started against the Reds at Minute Maid Park. Rodriguez matched Bailey by throwing a scoreless game through the first four innings. The Reds had only one hit to that point.

"He had us eating out of his hand until that five-run inning," Baker said of Rodriguez.

Leading up to the Renteria grand slam were some key plate appearances, namely from Bailey.

Chris Heisey led off the top of the fifth with a double to left field and scored on next batter Ramon Hernandez's ground-rule double near the right-field corner. With one out, Bailey started his plate appearance against Rodriguez in an 0-2 count and then hung tough.

In the nine-pitch sequence, Bailey fouled off three straight 3-2 pitches before drawing the walk.

"That was big in the sequence prior to the slam," Baker said. "He fouled off some high fastballs, stayed off some low breaking balls. He extended the inning without making an out."

"Better to be lucky than good," Bailey said of the walk. "I have to credit the pitching I get from [pitching coach] Bryan Price in the tunnel. He usually tries to throw me backdoor sliders and curveballs like Wandy was, so I had a little experience with it."

Drew Stubbs followed Bailey with his own walk that loaded the bases. Renteria sent a 1-0 pitch into the left-field seats for the ninth grand slam of his career and his first since Aug. 30, 2009.

"It was great. We needed a win today," Renteria said. "It was a good pitch I could handle. He threw me a fastball inside. I didn't think it would go out, but I got lucky. Rodriguez always pitches good. But we pitched good too and stayed in the game."

All of the game's scoring was limited to the fifth inning. In the bottom half, Bailey issued a leadoff walk to Jimmy Paredes before Carlos Corporan's single put runners on the corners. With one out, Luis Durango's line drive off of the bag at third base went for an RBI single into left field. Bailey was able to escape further damage by getting Jose Altuve to ground into a 5-4-3 double play.

"He will give you one fastball to hit," Corporan said. "If you miss it, you've got to deal with the offspeed. I think he pitched great. When you hit spots, good things happen, and that's what he did."

Bailey retired 10 of the last 12 batters he faced and had 99 pitches when he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the top of the ninth. In the bottom of the eighth, he gave up an Altuve single before a wild pitch moved the runner to second base. Altuve was left stranded on third base.

"He was cutting his split off and you could see him start throwing some balls in the dirt and they started hitting some balls pretty hard," Baker said. "We figured that was enough."

In his previous start, on July 28 against the Mets, Bailey lasted a season-low four innings and gave up a career-high nine earned runs.

"You wake up the next day and it's done with. Nothing you can do about it," he said.

Aroldis Chapman was sent out for the ninth and worked a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts to extend his hitless streak to 9 2/3 innings with one walk and 15 strikeouts.

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