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HOU@PIT: Gonzalez solid over 5 1/3 to earn first win

National League Cy Young candidate and Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto doesn't lose often, and when he does drop a game, he typically doesn't stay down long.

The last time the 26-year-old lost consecutive starts was way back in May when the Rockies and Pirates beat him. But even then he didn't pitch particularly poorly, giving up just two earned runs over seven innings in the second of the losses.

Coming off a defeat in his last start, Cueto (17-7) will look to bounce back Sunday against the Astros when the Reds host Houston in the series finale.

After winning three consecutive decisions, the Phillies got the best of Cueto in his last outing as the righty surrendered four earned runs on eight hits in seven innings.

"I don't think that it will hurt. I still have five more outings," Cueto said after the game when asked how the game affected his Cy Young chances. "I just have to keep going on [the] outings I have. To be honest with you, I don't think about those things. I just want to do my job, and make sure I get the job done."

The loss marked Cueto's first defeat during the day this season. He enters Sunday's matinee game with a 11-1 record and a 1.87 ERA in afternoon games.

Opposing the Reds' ace for the Astros will be right-hander Edgar Gonzalez. Sunday will only be the 29-year-old's third Major League appearance since 2009.

In his last outing on Monday, Gonzalez turned in a stellar start, tossing 5 1/3 innings of one-run, five-hit work while earning a win against the Pirates.

"This is the best thing that's happened to me this year -- to make the comeback to the big leagues, and I feel great," Gonzalez said. "I appreciate the Astros giving me the chance to throw in the big leagues, and I'm going to work hard every day to stay here."

Reds: Cozart hopeful to be back next week
Reds shortstop Zack Cozart underwent an MRI Friday that revealed the underlying source of Cozart's frustration: a left oblique strain.

Cozart's stellar play with both his bat and glove has earned him National League Rookie of the Year consideration. But an oblique strain will require additional rest for Cozart, and more lineup shuffling for Reds manager Dusty Baker.

"Best scenario, sometime next week," said Baker, when asked about a timetable on Cozart's return. "I'd rather have it [be] now than the last week of the season. Hopefully he'll be ready. I hope everybody's ready. We're in the final stretch now."

Cozart, who first experienced pain in the middle of his back on Tuesday, is batting .243 with 32 doubles, 15 homers and 32 RBIs.

On Saturday, Wilson Valdez made his third start at shortstop in the past four games.

Astros: Altuve is day to day
The Astros' already depleted infield took another blow Friday night when second baseman Jose Altuve left the game against the Reds in the bottom of the third inning with a left lower abdominal strain.

Altuve was left out of Saturday's lineup and Astros manager Tony DeFrancesco said Altuve would be out "a few days."

"It's kind of deep up in his groin, so we're just going to have to wait and see how that goes," DeFrancesco said. "He has no activity [Saturday]. He did his treatment."

Altuve hopes to return to the starting lineup at some point next week when the team returns to Houston.

"I think it's day-by-day," Altuve said. "We'll see how it feels when I get home. We'll see if I can play."

Worth noting
• The Reds are 10-4 this season against the Astros.

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