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HOU@CIN: Mesoraco's two-run homer puts the Reds up

CINCINNATI -- Reds pitcher Homer Bailey would certainly not decline earning win No. 9 of the season for a career high. But it came with a hint of the bittersweet.

After the Reds took a 6-4 victory over the Astros Tuesday to snap a four-game losing streak, Bailey wondered more of what could have been. He had two lengthy stints on the disabled list with shoulder problems this season, which has limited him to 21 starts.

"My No. 1 priority for next year is to stay healthy," said Bailey, who is 9-7 with a 4.32 ERA this season. "I know some of the injuries I've gone through probably couldn't have been helped. Nonetheless, they happened.

"If you look at how many wins-per-start I've had the last couple of years, if you get a full season in there, they're always right around 15. That's what really upsets me the most. If I could go out there, get the 30-35 starts, get the numbers, I'll be right around to 14, 16-17 wins a year. But these are the cards I've been dealt."

Against the Astros, Bailey has been aces. In five starts vs. the team from his home state, he is 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA. On Tuesday, he gave up two runs and six hits over seven innings with two walks and five strikeouts.

"He's had some good outings against us, there's no doubt," Astros skipper Brad Mills said.

It was also a nice evening as a hitter for Bailey, who notched a career-high three hits as a batter, going 3-for-3. His average jumped from .235 to .297.

"That's what happens when you get hurt and miss a lot of games," Bailey replied.

Bailey's hits were certainly welcomed, considering the Reds notched all of eight hits in their previous three games and scored only four runs. Cincinnati compiled 14 hits in the game against Houston.

In a three-run second inning that gave the Reds a 3-0 lead, rookie Devin Mesoraco took Astros starter Bud Norris deep for a two-run home run to left field. Norris departed in the third inning with right shoulder discomfort.

Jay Bruce snapped a 0-for-16 slump with a three-hit game, including a two-run single in the fourth inning that scored Bailey and Dave Sappelt to make it 5-2. Joey Votto snapped a season-high 0-for-14 slump with an eighth-inning single.

Some of the offense actually hindered Bailey rather than helped his pitching at one point. Following his chopped infield hit in the second, he spent a lot of time on the bases as the Reds sent eight men to the plate.

In the top of the third, Bailey walked leadoff batter Jordan Schafer and J.D. Martinez slugged a two-run homer to right field on the first pitch two batters later.

"Those are innings are tough to come back and get loose," Bailey said. "In the inning where I walked the leadoff guy and they got a home run, it's like 'Man, I wish I could have had five or six extra pitches to get loose.' That's the way it is. We won and that's all that matters."

After that, Bailey retired nine in a row and 14 of his final 16 batters, with the two blemishes being infield singles. He threw 119 pitches.

"We needed him to go deep in the game," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Our bullpen was spent from the last two days with short outings. He gave us just what we needed."

In the eighth, Reds reliever Jose Arredondo began by giving up a Martinez single off of the left field wall. With two outs, Bill Bray surrendered a two-run home run to left field from pinch-hitter Chris Johnson that made it a one-run game.

"We lost four in a row and we were flirting with another one tonight," Baker said. "We missed location a couple of times."

Facing Wilton Lopez with one out in the Reds' eighth, Brandon Phillips got a run back with a home run to center field. It was his 18th of the season, and his sixth over the last nine games.

"It feels good, especially struggling against the Brewers like that," Phillips said. "When you play against [the Astros], you have to stay hungry and try to go out there and do your job."

Not all of the offensive news was positive. Drew Stubbs struck out twice to reach 200 strikeouts for the season, extending his club record. Stubbs is the only Major Leaguer not named Mark Reynolds to reach that plateau. Reynolds, currently with the Orioles, has done it three times.

On the other hand, the victory was No. 1,480 of Baker's career and that tied him with Orioles Hall of Fame skipper Earl Weaver for 21st all time.

"It's always nice to climb up the ladder," Baker said. "More importantly, we needed that win -- badly."

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