Houston has 11 games with double-digit hits in 19 contests this season, including each of the last four. The Astros have also outscored opponents, 89-81, but have just a 7-12 record to show for it.
"I think we're a scrappy ballclub," closer Brett Myers said. "I said last year, we get in those situations where they have a two-, three-, four-run lead and kind of lay down. I think these younger guys are coming up and doing a good job and battling and working their way through at-bats and ... wearing bullpens down."
Leake, 0-2 with a 6.50 ERA, will try to put a stop to that in the series opener at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The Reds enter the series after having their three-game winning streak snapped in a 6-5 loss against the Giants on Thursday afternoon, whereas the Astros had Thursday off.
Leake endured one really bad inning in his most recent outing that led to a loss against the Cubs. He surrendered four runs in the second inning and a total of 10 hits and five earned runs over 5 2/3 innings in the game.
"They know I like to throw strikes and get ahead, and they took advantage of that," Leake said afterward. "I just wasn't mixing up enough, and I was leaving hittable balls over the plate."
For his career, Leake is 2-3 with a 4.45 ERA in seven games (five starts) against the Astros.
Houston will counter with left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, who has been terrific over his previous two starts, posting a 0.64 ERA. He tossed seven shutout frames against the Dodgers his last time out.
Kyle Weiland had been scheduled to start the opener, but he was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday so he can rest the soreness in his right shoulder.
"Wandy continues to throw the ball well, and we need it, especially from where he is in the rotation," manager Brad Mills said. "He's a guy that's going to give us a quality start and a chance to pitch deep into games. He's thrown well, and the other guys have fallen in line."
Rodriguez's 3.28 ERA since 2009 ranks second among National League lefties, behind Los Angeles' Clayton Kershaw.
In a ceremony that will begin on the field at Great American Ball Park shortly before first pitch, the Reds and Sharon Robinson, daughter of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, will honor Raeya Ponugoti, the grand-prize winner of the 2012 "Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life" essay contest.
Astros: Schaefer streaking
Center fielder Jordan Schafer has reached base safely in all 19 games this season, the longest stretch by an Astros player to start a campaign since Ricky Gutierrez reached base in 23 consecutive games in 1998.
The club record is 25 games, set by Denis Menke in 1969.
With Wednesday's 7-5 win over the Brewers, 11 of the Astros' 19 games have been decided by two runs or fewer. The Astros are 3-8 in those contests.
Reds: Rolen starting to heat up
After hitting just .111 through his first nine games, Scott Rolen has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games, raising his average to .183.
The 37-year-old Rolen entered Thursday's loss as part of a double-switch in the top of the seventh and led off the bottom of the inning with a home run, his second in as many nights.
"I've always said it takes an older player longer," Reds manager Dusty Baker said of Rolen, who also missed most of the second half of 2011 with a left shoulder injury that required surgery. "I've seen it with the Yankees and different older teams. Those bones and muscles need heat. They don't need cold, wet and dampness. I'm not even playing and wherever I was hurt before is aching."
Rolen also needs just one double to pass Roberto Alomar (504), who is 50th on baseball's all-time doubles list. With one more double, Rolen would tie Tony Perez for 49th and fall just one shy of Babe Ruth, who has 506.
Cincinnati is 429-394-1 all-time against the Astros and 31-15 over the last three seasons. The Reds have won 28 of the last 40 games between the two teams and 11 of the last 13 series.
Thirteen of Houston's 16 games from April 13-29 have been or will be on the road.