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MIL@CIN: Bailey fans 10 over eight stellar innings

If pitching closer to home makes Homer Bailey even more comfortable than he has already looked recently, things could get ugly for the Astros.

The LaGrange, Texas, native grew up about 100 miles outside Houston and is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA in two starts in his home state.

Combine that with the fact that Bailey has won his past four starts, allowing a combined six earned runs while posting a 1.76 ERA, and the Reds have a recipe for success.

But the 26-year-old righty said he isn't worried about individual achievements, rather aiming at keeping the Reds on top of the National League Central.

"If I get the win, I don't care," Bailey said. "At the end of the day, it's about this club winning games. When I take the mound, I don't go for wins, I go for our team wins."

Wednesday's attempt at a sweep looks promising for the Reds, who are also going for seven straight wins, as Bailey is 4-0 with a 1.60 ERA lifetime against the Astros.

He'll face off with fellow righty Bud Norris, who hasn't had the same kind of luck Bailey has seen of late.

Norris has lost his past seven outings after starting the season 5-1 with his ERA at 3.14. He is now 5-8 and has bumped his ERA up to 5.33.

The 27-year-old has had a particularly rough July, losing all three starts with a 7.27 ERA.

"It's tough," Norris said after his last start in which he gave up nine earned runs in 4 1/3 innings. "You go out there and try to keep the game as close as you can, and you can't really think about how many runs you are getting."

Scoring runs hasn't been Houston's strong point this season. The Astros have crossed the plate 375 times this season, ranking them in the bottom five in the league in runs scored. They are stuck in an eight-game losing streak.

Reds: Rotation stays intact with Latos good to go

The Reds are one of only two teams, along with the Marlins, to have used just five starting pitchers all season.

That streak looked to be in jeopardy after Monday night's starter Mat Latos suffered a sprained left ankle in the fifth inning against Houston.

Latos, however, self-assessed his ankle as being "fine" after the game Monday, and Reds manager Dusty Baker confirmed that his 24-year-old righty would be good to go in his next start.

"He should be fine," Baker said. "He looks like a racehorse with the tape on his ankle. Other than that, he said it didn't swell much, which is good."

• The Reds currently sit atop the NL Central and look to be playoff bound, making them buyers in the hectic world of trade rumors.

General manager Walt Jocketty said a few weeks ago that the Reds were in the market for a leadoff man and a cleanup hitter as the July 31 Trade Deadline approaches.

While Baker would certainly love to improve his lineup, the skipper was not a proponent of the added stress the rumor mill can bring to a clubhouse.

"You wish the Trade Deadline would come and go so guys would feel more comfortable," Baker said. "It's always tough this time of year around trade time because everybody's wondering. I call somebody in my office just to talk to them and they think that I'm informing them that they're traded. It's a tough time for a lot of people."

• After being called up to the Reds less than a week ago, left fielder Xavier Paul earned his first Major League start in a Reds uniform Tuesday, and he impressed.

Paul, who started in place of Ryan Ludwick in left field, went 3-for-5 batting from the six-hole and drove in two runs, including one in the ninth inning during the Reds' comeback.

Paul also stole a base and gunned out Marwin Gonzalez at third from the outfield.

Paul, whose last start came with the Pirates on Sept. 28, 2011, entered Monday 0-for-3 in three pinch-hit appearances with the Reds.

Astros: Houston bids farewell to Wandy
The last remaining piece of the Astros' 2005 National League championship is officially gone.

Houston on Tuesday night parted ways with pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, who will get another chance to play on a contender as he makes his way to Pittsburgh.

The Astros received left-handed pitchers Rudy Owens and Colton Cain and outfielder Robbie Grossman in return for Rodriguez and cash.

"Wandy has been a terrific pitcher for the Astros for a long time," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "Trading a player like Wandy is not easy, but we know this deal is a very good one for us, the Pirates and for Wandy. We thank him for all he has done for the Astros and wish him continued success."

Rodriguez had been with the Astros' organization since 1999, posting an 80-84 record with a 4.04 ERA in seven-plus seasons in Houston. He made his final start for the Astros on Monday, giving up three runs through six innings.

• Francisco Cordero faced his former team Tuesday night in his first save chance with the Astros, but it didn't turn out quite like he planned.

He was two outs away from the victory when Drew Stubbs ripped a two-run homer to left field to give the Reds the lead. Cordero then walked two straight and allowed an RBI single to Paul to put Houston down by two.

Cordero left after two-thirds of an inning, giving up three runs on three hits with two walks.

Worth noting
• At 57-40, the Reds are a season-high 17 games above .500, their best since the 2010 NL Central champs finished 20 games above, at 91-71.

• The Reds' 4-2 comeback win Tuesday night marked the club's 23rd come-from-behind victory of the season.

• After the bullpen surrendered three runs to the Reds Tuesday night, the Astros are now 13-47 when their relievers allow at least one run. They are 21-16 when the bullpen either does not allow a run or is not used.

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