CINCINNATI (AP) -- Reds manager Dusty Baker has seen all he wants of Carlos Lee.
"Man, that guy knows how to drive in those runs, doesn't he?" the frustrated but respectful Baker said of Lee, who has five RBIs in the first two games of the four-game series, an even 100 for the season and 1,001 in his career. "You hate to see those guys come up in those situations. They're RBI machines.
Miguel Tejada doubled and Lance Berkman walked with two outs against Francisco Cordero (4-4). Lee followed with a drive to right-center that Corey Patterson almost caught with diving effort, but the ball dribbled from his glove and both runners scored.
"I knew I hit it well, but I saw him dive for the ball and said, 'Noooo,'" said Lee, who tied his season high with four hits and extended his hitting streak to eight games. "When things are going your way, they fall."
"I was playing in a little bit, trying to stop the bleeding with a runner on second base," Patterson said. "It might've been tailing away a little bit. It was close. That's all I had. There was nothing else left in the tank. I was at full speed."
Pence then added his second home run in two nights and 16th of the season to push his own two-game RBI count to five and send the Reds to their fourth consecutive loss.
Chris Sampson (6-4) allowed the Reds to tie the game in the seventh but still earned the win with three innings of relief.
The Astros took a 2-0 lead in the first inning against Johnny Cueto on a home run by Kaz Matsui, his second leadoff homer of the month and eighth of his career, and a two-out homer off the left-field foul pole by Lee, his 28th of the season.
"Over the last couple of months, I don't think there's been a better player in the league -- not just hitting, but fielding, too," Houston manager Cecil Cooper said.
Houston cut the lead to 4-3 in the fifth when Lee scored from second on Michael Bourn's two-out single to left. Patterson allowed Cueto to leave with the lead by tracking down Humberto Quintero's drive to right-center and making a leaping catch while banging into the wall with his left shoulder.
Cueto allowed nine hits and two walks, striking out nine. He is winless in his last six starts.
With Cincinnati leading 4-3 and two outs in the seventh inning, Reds reliever Nick Masset, one of two players acquired from the White Sox for outfielder Ken Griffey Jr., bobbled Bourn's chopper up the first base line for an error. Quintero followed with his fourth major league homer and first since 2005.
"When things are going bad, what can go bad will go bad," Baker said. "It doesn't last forever, but when you're in it, it feels like it."
The Reds tied the game against Sampson and cost starter Randy Wolf a win in the bottom of the inning on David Ross's leadoff double, pinch-hitter Jolbert Cabrera's single and Keppinger's sacrifice fly.
Wolf gave up six hits and four runs with two walks and six strikeouts.
Reds rookie OF Jay Bruce singled in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to 12 games, matching the season-high streak he had in July. ... Houston RHP Felipe Paulino won't throw the ball for at least five days because of tendinitis in his right rotator cuff. Paulino left a rehab outing with Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday after retiring two batters with shoulder soreness. He hasn't pitched for Houston at all this season after developing nerve problems in his upper arm. ... RHP Aaron Harang is expected to be activated from the disabled list and start Sunday for Cincinnati, giving RHP Edinson Volquez two extra days of rest. Harang hasn't pitched since July 8 because of a strained right forearm. ... The Reds announced the hiring as a special assistant of former Seattle and Anaheim general manager Bill Bavasi.