Stenson, Castro power Reds to series win


CINCINNATI (AP) -- A deflating road trip left the Houston Astros
stuck in the traffic jam atop the NL Central -- the last thing they

Dernell Stenson hit a solo homer that reached the seats without
dispute, and Juan Castro had a three-run shot Sunday that powered
the Cincinnati Reds to a 4-3 victory.

The Reds took two of three for their first series win against
Houston this season. The Astros are 11-3 against the Reds overall,
and 33-15 since the start of the 2001 season.

Houston moved into first place on July 8 and led by as many as
four games. A 2-5 trip to Chicago and Cincinnati brought them back
to the pack and briefly knocked them from the top spot.

The Astros are still in first place, but only a game separates
them, the Cubs and the Cardinals in the NL's weakest division.
Chicago lost to the Dodgers on Sunday, remaining a half-game out.

"This is not what you want it to come down to -- you lose, they
lose," said Jeff Bagwell, who hit a solo homer. "You want to win
and take care of yourself. To succeed in the playoffs, you've got
to be a pretty good team. The way we've been doing the last week,
that's not going to get it done."

Tim Redding (8-11) matched his career high by striking out eight
Reds in six innings, but Bagwell's error and a sloppy breaking ball
undercut the outing. Bagwell muffed D'Angelo Jimenez's grounder to
first for an error to open the fourth, and Stenson singled with two

Redding then hung a breaking ball to Castro, whose homer barely
cleared the wall in center and put the Reds up 4-2.

"I knew I hit it good, but it was to center field, so I wasn't
sure," Castro said of his ninth homer. "It just kept carrying."

Colin Porter stretched his glove above the wall and came up just
short of a saving catch.

"I just threw a bad pitch," said Redding, who gave up five
hits. "It was supposed to be a slider down and away, but I left it
over the plate and up.

"Everybody knows about the controversy of the mound being low
here and the balls fly out. He hit it to the deepest part, where I
thought Colin was going to catch it a couple of feet in front of
the wall. I didn't think it would be out of here."

Stenson also had a solo homer, one day after he lost one on a
disputed call. He hit a drive into the front row of left-field
seats during Houston's 5-2 victory Saturday and started rounding
the bases on what he thought was a homer for his first major league
hit. Second base umpire Rob Drake ruled fan interference and
limited him to a double.

"It was pretty obvious, but that's a hard ball to call when
you're looking at it like he was," Stenson said. "I got lucky
enough to hit it out of the park (on Sunday)."

His second-inning drive off Redding landed several rows deep in
center, leaving no room for dispute. Stenson, promoted from the
minors last week, went 5-for-8 in the last two games.

Paul Wilson (7-10) gave up five hits in six innings to win for
the first time since July 27, the day before the Reds fired their
manager and general manager and started trading players to cut

Chris Reitsma, who became a closer after Scott Williamson was
dealt to Boston, pitched the ninth for his second save in seven

Bagwell hit his 28th homer in the first inning for a 1-0 lead.
Bagwell has 25 career homers in Cincinnati, the most in any road
city. He has three in Great American Ball Park's inaugural season,
including the 400th of his career.

Jeff Kent extended his hitting streak with an RBI single in the
fourth, and drove in another run by grounding into a forceout in
the sixth.

Game notes
INF Jose Vizcaino is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment
Tuesday with the Astros' Triple-A club in New Orleans. He went on
the DL after he was hit by a pitch on June 24, breaking his left
forearm. ... Porter made his third start in CF in place of Craig
Biggio, who got a day off. ... 3B Brandon Larson was out of the
Reds' lineup with a sore left shoulder, aggravated when he dove for
a ball on Saturday. ... The Reds have struck out 1,012 times, most
in the majors. They've set club records for strikeouts in each of
the last two seasons -- 1,172 in 2001 and 1,188 last year.