Series: Game 2 of 3

Cincinnati leads 2-0 (as of 4/29)

Game 1: Friday, April 28
Game 2: Saturday, April 29
Game 3: Sunday, April 30

Astros 3

(15-8, 3-4 away)

Reds 6

(17-7, 8-3 home)

    1:15 PM ET, April 29, 2006

    Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio 

    123456789 R H E
    HOU 020000010 3 7 1
    CIN 00042000 - 6 12 1

    W: A. Harang (4-1)

    L: A. Pettitte (1-4)

    S: D. Weathers (8)

    Harang pitches Reds to club-record 17th April victory

    CINCINNATI (AP) -- The Cincinnati Reds set franchise slugging records while finishing fifth in the NL Central last season.

    This year, they're using small ball to reach new heights.

    The Reds hit one homer Saturday, but they got some help from Houston while manufacturing five runs and set a club record for wins in April by beating the Astros 6-3.

    Aaron Harang earned his fourth consecutive victory and Rich Aurilia hit his fourth homer as Cincinnati sent Andy Pettitte (1-4) to his third straight loss.

    Brandon Phillips also had two RBI and scored on a wild pitch to help the Reds (17-7) extend their winning streak to six, their longest since a seven-game spurt in May 2004. They lead the major leagues in wins.

    "When you're facing good pitching, you know you can't count on hitting a lot of home runs," manager Jerry Narron said. "With guys like Phillips, you know you have a chance to do some things other than hitting the ball out of the ballpark."

    Harang (4-1) gave up five hits and three runs in 7 2-3 innings to earn his fourth win in five starts since losing on opening day. He allowed two walks with seven strikeouts.

    Kent Mercker came on and gave up Lance Berkman's run-scoring single before getting the final out of the eighth. David Weathers pitched the ninth for his eighth save in nine opportunities.

    Jason Lane gave Houston a 2-0 lead in the second with his fifth home run. He followed Preston Wilson's one-out single with a 427-foot shot to left field on a 3-0 pitch that reached the second row of the upper deck.

    "I was rushing a lot," Harang said of his first three innings. "My release point was inconsistent, but I was able to keep them off balance by pitching up and down in the zone. Guys made plays behind me, and I hit my rhythm about the fifth inning."

    The Reds capitalized on Pettitte's control problems to take the lead while batting around in the fourth. The left-hander issued back-to-back walks to Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns with one out. Dunn scored on Edwin Encarnacion's line-drive double off the left-field wall. Phillips followed with a chopper up the third-base line for an infield single that drove in Kearns, and Encarnacion scored when Pettitte fielded the ball and threw wildly past first for an error.

    "The first three innings, I couldn't have felt more in control," Pettitte said. "I got a quick out in the fourth, then I walked Adam. I started overthrowing and pulling the ball across the dish. It continued with Kearns, and I got out of synch. I threw a horrible pitch to Encarnacion."

    Jason LaRue struck out, but Phillips moved to second on Harang's single, stole third and scored when Pettitte threw a wild pitch on ball four to Ryan Freel.

    "It's hard to get four runs off Andy," Houston manager Phil Garner said. "When you do, you know something's not right."

    Aurilia led off the fifth with a homer to center. Dunn followed with a double, moved to third on Kearns' single and, after Encarnacion struck out, scored on Phillips' grounder to second.

    "The way we've been going, especially if (opposing pitchers) are throwing well, if we can drag it out long enough and get into their bullpen, we've been having some scoring late in games," Harang said. "Our guys are coming out in the fifth or sixth inning, if they haven't put some (runs) up early."

    Pettitte was roughed up for 11 hits and six runs with three walks and six strikeouts in five innings. He fell to 2-2 in his career against the Reds less than 24 hours after teammate Roy Oswalt lost for the first time in 16 career decisions against Cincinnati.

    The Reds, who set the single-season franchise record for home runs, extra-base hits and doubles last year, beat Oswalt without hitting a home run.

    "If you put the ball in play, you make things happen," Narron said. "To beat Oswalt and Pettitte back-to-back says a lot about our ballclub right now. I'm happy with the way we come out and grind it out every night. It's really nice to see."

    Game notes

    Narron doesn't expect CF Ken Griffey Jr. to be activated from the 15-day disabled list until "sometime next week, at the earliest," he said. Griffey, who is out with an inflamed tendon behind his right knee, was eligible to be activated on Friday. ... Kearns' second-inning single snapped his streak of hitless at-bats at 14. ... SS Adam Everett started for Houston after missing the previous two games with a bruised left hand. ... Dunn hasn't homered in 36 at-bats. He had a drought of 41 at-bats last season. ... The Astros have lost a series after winning six of their first seven and splitting the seventh.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press