Series: Game 1 of 3

Houston leads 1-0 (as of 8/30)

Game 1: Monday, August 30
Game 2: Tuesday, August 31
Game 3: Wednesday, September 1

Astros 11

(68-63, 35-30 away)

Reds 3

(62-68, 34-31 home)

    7:10 PM ET, August 30, 2004

    Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio 

    123456789 R H E
    HOU 111003401 11 11 1
    CIN 000030000 3 10 2

    W: P. Munro (3-5)

    L: P. Norton (1-5)

    Dunn hits No. 40 in loss

    CINCINNATI (AP) -- The Houston Astros are hitting their way into the NL wild-card race.

    Brad Ausmus hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the sixth inning as the surging Astros reached double figures in runs for the third time in the last four games in an 11-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night.

    Lance Berkman homered twice and drove in four runs for the Astros, who have scored a combined 43 runs in their last four games and won for the seventh time in eight games.

    "We're taking the pressure off of our pitchers," said Berkman, who had the 13th multihomer game of his career and fifth against Cincinnati. "Hopefully, we're getting on a roll at the right time. We had a period of time when things weren't going well, and it was all gloom and doom. Now, it's going the other way."

    Houston remained just four games behind Chicago, which leads the NL wild-card race. The Astros won the last three of their four-game series against the Cubs over the weekend before beating the Reds.

    "You know how many runs they scored in the Chicago series," Reds manager Dave Miley said. "They're hitting the ball well."

    Pete Munro (3-5) went five-plus innings to win for the first time in seven starts since July 25. He gave up three runs and eight hits, and struck out a season-high six.

    Adam Dunn hit his 40th homer for the Reds, and Felipe Lopez added a two-run shot.

    "It's just not good timing for us right now," Dunn said. "We're playing as bad as we've played in a while, and it doesn't help to be playing teams that are really hot."

    With the game tied at 3, Jeff Kent reached on a leadoff infield single, Mike Lamb grounded into fielder's choice, Jose Vizcaino singled and Ausmus homered to center on a 3-0 pitch from Phil Norton (1-5).

    It was Ausmus' first homer in 59 at-bats since July 25.

    "We've been getting timely hitting, just not usually from me," Ausmus said. "I was looking for a fastball up and out over the plate, and I was lucky enough to get one."

    Houston broke it open with a four-run seventh, including Berkman's two-run double and Ausmus's run-scoring single. Berkman scored when Dunn failed to catch Kent's drive to the warning track in left for a two-base error.

    The Astros scored an unearned run in the first when Craig Biggio scored from third on third baseman Ryan Freel's two-out fielding error on Kent's sharp grounder.

    Munro made it 2-0 in the second, driving in Vizcaino with a sacrifice fly for the third RBI of his five-year career -- and first since 2002.

    Berkman made it 3-0 with his 22nd homer, and second in two days, in the third off Luke Hudson.

    The Reds tied it in the fifth. Freel hit a leadoff double and Lopez followed with a drive to center off Munro for his fifth homer. One out later, Dunn hit his 40th -- becoming the eighth player in team history to hit that many.

    Hudson allowed three runs -- two earned -- and four hits in a career-low four innings.

    Game notes

    Astros OF Carlos Beltran was named NL Player of the Week after hitting .435 with six homers, 11 RBI and four stolen bases while Houston was going 6-1 last week. ... Beltran was back in the lineup Monday, one day after getting hit by a pitch in the left knee and leaving the game against Chicago in the eighth inning. ... Cincinnati's Sean Casey snapped an 0-for-10 slump with a first-inning single. ... Cincinnati's Jason LaRue was hit by a pitch for the 20th time, the second consecutive season he has been hit by that many. He shares the club record with Frank Robinson, who was hit 20 times in 1956.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press